What we learned from John Bolton's book on the Trump administration
President Donald Trump says if former national security adviser John Bolton is going ahead with a book it is "totally inappropriate." (June 15) AP Domestic
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump's former national security adviser, John Bolton, Wall Street Journal, revealing that Bolton portrays Trump's foreign policy strategy as "chaotic," and suggests Trump was consumed with re-election.
"The whole thing made my head hurt," Bolton says of Trump's approach to trade.
The Trump administration told the Wall Street Journal in an interview Wednesday night that Bolton "is a liar while adding “everybody in the White House hated John Bolton” in response to the reports on the book.
Here are key claims from Bolton's book, as reported Wednesday:
Trump sought foreign help to help his re-election
As was alleged by Democrats during impeachment, Bolton writes that Trump used his position as president to boost his 2020 re-election chances. But Bolton says, in the published excerpt, that those efforts went beyond just Ukraine. The book is expected to detail other pressure campaigns on governments, according to a book preview released last week by Simon & Schuster.
"I am hard-pressed to identify any significant Trump decision during my White House tenure that wasn’t driven by re-election calculations," Bolton says.
Trump asked China's president Xi Jinping to increase its purchase of American-grown farm products because aiding farmers would benefit him in the presidential race, according to the published excerpt. The requests came during trade negotiations at the 2018 G-20 summit in Argentina and again in June 2019 at the summit in Japan.
'Driven by re-election': The New York Times, Bolton also writes that Trump explicitly linked military aid money designated by Congress for Ukraine to investigations he wanted into Democrats, an allegation at the center of the impeachment investigation.
Trump asked Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to look into former Vice President Joe Biden, his 2020 rival, and House Democrats sought to prove that he did so with the threat of withholding the aid money. Trump repeatedly denied there was a quid pro quo, and he was ultimately acquitted by the Republican-majority Senate.
Explainer: Washington Post reported from Bolton's book.
“What if we have a real crisis like 9/11 with the way he makes decisions?” former chief of staff John Kelly said, Bolton writes in the book.
According to the Times' reporting, Bolton described Trump's 2018 meeting with Kim Jong Un, during which he says Secretary of State Mike Pompeo passed a note to Bolton about Trump that read, "He is so full of s--t."
Trump approved of internment camps in China
Bolton writes that Trump spoke with China's leader about plans of "basically building concentration camps" to hold Uighur Muslims, a religious and ethnic minority group that has been strategically detained by the Chinese government in internment camps and prisons.
The White House announced Wednesday that Trump signed a bill that would punish China for its crackdown on Uighurs, as pieces of Bolton's book came out, including his recalling that Trump approved of the Uighur camps a year ago.
Bolton writes that during the Japan G-20 summit, "with only interpreters present, Xi had explained to Trump why he was basically building concentration camps in Xinjiang."
"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," Bolton said.
The legislation Trump signed "holds accountable perpetrators of human rights violations and abuses such as the systematic use of indoctrination camps, forced labor, and intrusive surveillance to eradicate the ethnic identity and religious beliefs of Uyghurs and other minorities in China," the president said in a White House statement.
According to the WSJ, Trump denied giving Xi approval for the Uighur camps in China.
Contributing: Ledyard King; the Associated Press