Bolton Shares Wild Tales of Trump Administration in New Book as White House Fights Publication
“In South America, Trump wanted to send the US military to Venezuela to overthrow President Nicolas Maduro, Bolton writes. He ‘insisted on military options for Venezuela’ and even told his cabinet that it ‘is really part of the United States.'”
John Bolton’s book isn’t due to hit bookstores until June 23, but some media outlets received advance copies to sift through and have begun sharing noteworthy tidbits. President Donald Trump’s former national security advisor was in the West Wing for 17 months before his relationship with the president soured and he left the administration. The White House is seeking a court order to bar the release of Bolton’s book, “The Room Where It Happened,” on allegations that it contains classified information.
Accounts from Bolton’s book touch on all manner of subjects from Ukraine to China and Trump’s perceived fascination with authoritarian leaders. Some of the events described in Bolton’s memoir may be perceived unfavorably by the Trump administration as the former advisor provided insight into the president’s thinking on controversial issues, such as China’s concentration camps for its Uighur population, BBC reported.
Letting China Slide
Trump’s attitude toward China in particular resembled that of a friend asking for help, according to the book. At last year’s G20 meeting, Trump indirectly asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to purchase more American agricultural products, which would help Trump win the 2020 election. Bolton writes the discussion turned into Trump “pleading with Xi to ensure he’d win.”
Trump also was amicable with Xi when it came to talk of China’s concentration camps, BBC reported.
“According to our interpreter,” Bolton writes, “Trump said that Xi should go ahead with building the camps, which Trump thought was exactly the right thing to do.”
Although Trump imposed sanctions on Wednesday, Bolton says Trump was never in favor of them out of fear that they would disrupt trade discussions between Beijing and Washington, CNN reported.
“Religious repression in China was also not on Trump’s agenda; whether it was the Catholic Church or Falun Gong, it didn’t register,” Bolton writes.
Friendly With Turkey
In another foreign policy story, Bolton writes that Trump promised to intervene in an investigation of a Turkish state-owned bank that was accused of violating US sanctions. Trump told Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that he would “take care of things” and blamed the investigation on “Obama people.”
Trump gave “personal favors to dictators he liked,” Bolton writes. Trump directed Attorney General William Barr to oversee efforts to reach a settlement with the bank, Halkbank, but it was eventually charged by the Justice Department, The New York Times reported.
In South America, Trump wanted to send the US military to Venezuela to overthrow President Nicolas Maduro, Bolton writes. He “insisted on military options for Venezuela” and even told his cabinet that it “is really part of the United States.” When he met military leaders at the Pentagon, Trump asked why America is at war in the Middle East, but not in South America, CNN reported. He repeated his concerns when he met with Republican leaders in Florida, “stunning” Florida Gov. Ron Desantis and Republican Sen. Rick Scott.
Firsthand Witness to Ukraine Scandal
Bolton’s book also delivers his account of the Ukraine scandal that led to Trump’s impeachment. He writes that he along with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper tried to reason with Trump to release the Congressionally approved foreign aid to Ukraine.
The president “said he wasn’t in favor of sending them anything until all the Russia-investigation materials related to [Hillary] Clinton and Biden had been turned over,” Bolton writes.
Bolton’s retelling of the Ukraine saga is firsthand evidence that the president tried to exact a quid pro quo with Ukraine. No firsthand witnesses testified in the impeachment trial, which gave the Republican Party a defense strategy, The New York Times noted.
Bolton did not testify to the chagrin of Democratic legislators. He explained in his book that he decided to wait to see if his former deputy would be required to testify in the House hearing. Democrats in the House decide it wasn’t worth the judicial fight to compel Bolton’s staffer to testify, something Bolton blames on the Democrats.
They were in a rush, he says, and that was their first mistake, The New York Times reported. Their second was limiting the impeachment hearing to the Ukraine scandal when Democrats could have also pursued other instances of alleged misconduct, Bolton writes.
Although Bolton offered to testify in the Senate trial, Republicans voted to accept no new evidence or witnesses.
“Had a Senate majority agreed to call witnesses and had I testified, I am convinced, given the environment then existing because of the House’s impeachment malpractice, that it would have made no significant difference in the Senate outcome,” Bolton writes.
Other areas Bolton touches on include Trump’s weak geopolitical knowledge. Bolton claims Trump had no idea the UK is a nuclear power when he met with former UK Prime Minister Theresa May in 2018. Trump also asked Russian President Vladimir Putin if Finland is a Russian territory, while the two leaders met in Helsinki.
Bolton also writes efforts to bring Trump up to speed during intelligence briefings were not “terribly useful” because the prudent often steered discussions off topic. The former advisor describes efforts of decision-making in the administration like “food fights.” At the end of the day, Trump judges decisions on whether they will help him win reelection and how they will look in the media, Bolton writes.
Tump responded to Bolton’s book in a series of tweets, calling “Wacko John Bolton’s book “lies and fake stories.” He also called Bolton “a disgruntled boring fool who only wanted to go to war.”
He also accused Bolton of derailing talks with North Korea after he said the US would look at the “Libyan Model” in an interview on “Face The Nation,” which Trump called “Deface the Nation.” Trump said “he should have fired him right then & there!”