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Excerpts from former national security adviser John Bolton’s book about his time in the Trump administration paint a damning view of the president as a “stunningly uninformed” man who was outmatched by the job he was elected to do, according to three newspapers that obtained advance copies of the book.
The White House has sought to block the publication of “The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir,” filing suit against Bolton this week. In doing so, however, the Trump administration has helped elevate the memoir’s profile, sending it to the top of bestseller lists nationwide even before it is published on June 23. Excerpts published Tuesday by the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post contain numerous bombshells. Here are some of the most explosive:
Trump asked China’s Xi for help with his reelection
In an excerpt published in the Wall Street Journal, Bolton, who resigned from the administration in September, wrote the following: “Trump said approvingly that there was great hostility to China among the Democrats. Trump then, stunningly, turned the conversation to the coming U.S. presidential election, alluding to China’s economic capability and pleading with [President] Xi [Jinping] to ensure he’d win. He stressed the importance of farmers and increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat in the electoral outcome. I would print Trump’s exact words, but the government’s prepublication review process has decided otherwise.”
Trump told Xi he approved of building Chinese concentration camps for Uighur citizens
Another excerpt published by the Journal deals with conversations between Trump and Xi about the construction of concentration camps for China’s largely Muslim Uighur minority, whose loyalty to Beijing is considered suspect by the regime. “At the opening dinner of the Osaka G-20 meeting in June 2019, with only interpreters present, Xi had explained to Trump why he was basically building concentration camps in Xinjiang,” Bolton wrote. “According to our interpreter, Trump said that Xi should go ahead with building the camps, which Trump thought was exactly the right thing to do. The National Security Council’s top Asia staffer, Matthew Pottinger, told me that Trump said something very similar during his November 2017 trip to China.”
Trump spoke of executing U.S. journalists who didn’t reveal sources for stories
According to excerpts provided to the Washington Post, Bolton detailed a July 2019 meeting with the president during which Trump complained bitterly about the media coverage he had received. Specifically, Trump railed against journalists who refused to reveal the sources for their stories, Bolton said. “These people should be executed,” Trump said in the meeting, according to Bolton. “They are scumbags.”
Pompeo and other Trump staffers derided the president behind his back
An excerpt published by the New York Times recounts an incident that occurred at Trump’s 2018 meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo slipped Bolton a note about Trump that read, “He is so full of s***.”
Shortly after he began in his post, Bolton was told by then-chief of staff John Kelly, “You can’t imagine how desperate I am to get out of here.” Kelly, according to Bolton’s retelling, then added, “This is a bad place to work, as you will find out.”
Democrats botched Trump’s impeachment by focusing on Ukraine
In the excerpts published by the Times, Bolton was sharply critical of Democrats in Congress for limiting their impeachment proceedings on Trump’s quid pro quo with Ukrainian leaders to help secure his reelection. Instead, Bolton wrote, they should have expanded their inquiry to a host of misdeeds on the part of the president, including what Bolton described as improper involvement on behalf of authoritarian governments in China and Turkey.
“A president may not misuse the national government’s legitimate powers by defining his own personal interest as synonymous with the national interest, or by inventing pretexts to mask the pursuit of personal interest under the guise of national interest,” Bolton wrote. “Had the House not focused solely on the Ukraine aspects of Trump’s confusion of his personal interests,” he added, “there might have been a greater chance to persuade others that ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ had been perpetrated.”
Bolton refused to testify in the impeachment inquiry against Trump.
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