Trump sought Chinese President Xi Jinping's help to win re-election, reveals Bolton’s book

The U.S. president had expressed a willingness to halt criminal probe to give “personal favors to dictators he liked," says the former national security adviser

Updated - June 18, 2020 08:54 am IST

Published - June 18, 2020 08:08 am IST - WASHINGTON

U.S. President Donald Trump with China's President Xi Jinping. File photo

U.S. President Donald Trump with China's President Xi Jinping. File photo

In a withering behind-the-scenes portrayal, President Donald Trump's former national security adviser John Bolton accused him of sweeping misdeeds that included explicitly seeking Chinese President Xi Jinping's help to win re-election.

Mr. Bolton, a longtime foreign policy hawk who Mr. Trump fired in September over policy differences, also said that the U.S. president had expressed a willingness to halt criminal investigations to give “personal favors to dictators he liked,” according to a book excerpt published in the New York Times .

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on excerpts from “The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir” published on Wednesday in the Wall Street Journal , the New York Times and the Washington Post.

The accusations are part of a book that the U.S. government on Tuesday sued to block Mr. Bolton from publishing, arguing it contained classified information and would compromise national security.

Together, they portray a U.S. President mocked by his top advisers who exposed himself to far more extensive accusations of impropriety than those that drove the Democratic-led House of Representatives to impeach Mr. Trump last year.

The Republican-led Senate acquitted Mr. Trump in early February. Mr. Trump was accused of withholding U.S. military aid last year to put pressure on newly-elected Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky to provide damaging information on Democratic political opponent Joe Biden .

“Had Democratic impeachment advocates not been so obsessed with their Ukraine blitzkrieg in 2019, had they taken the time to inquire more systematically about Mr. Trumps behavior across his entire foreign policy, the impeachment outcome might well have been different,” Mr. Bolton wrote, according to excerpts of his book published in the Wall Street Journal.

Critics of Mr. Bolton note he declined to testify before the House inquiry when his disclosures could have been critical, adhering instead to White House guidance.

Representative Adam Schiff, the California Democrat who led the prosecution of Republican Mr. Trump, slammed Mr. Bolton for saying at the time that “he'd sue if subpoenaed.”

“Instead, he saved it for a book,” Mr., Schiff said on Twitter. ”Mr. Bolton may be an author, but he's no patriot.”

Still, Mr. Bolton's allegations provide new ammunition to critics ahead of the Nov. 3 presidential election, including his behind-the-scenes accounts of Mr. Trump's conversations with China's Xi - which, in one case, broached the topic of the U.S. vote.

“Mr. Trump then, stunningly, turned the conversation to the coming U.S. presidential election, alluding to China's economic capability and pleading with Mr. Xi to ensure he'd win,” Mr. Bolton wrote, in the most in-depth, damaging portrayal by a Mr. Trump administration insider to date and just days after former defense secretary Jim Mattis accused the President of trying to divide America.

Mr. Biden said in a statement: “If these accounts are true, its not only morally repugnant, its a violation of Donald Trump’s sacred duty to the American people.”

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in Senate testimony that Mr. Bolton's account was “absolutely untrue.”

“I was at the meeting. Would I recollect something as crazy as that? Of course I would,” Mr. Lighthizer said. “This never happened in it for sure. Completely crazy.”

Mr. Trump 'eroded' Presidency

Although Mr. Trump's administration had been strongly critical of China's mass detention of mostly Muslim Uighur minority and other Muslim groups, Mr. Trump gave Mr. Xi a green light in that same meeting, Mr. Bolton said.

“According to our interpreter, Mr. Trump said that Mr. Xi should go ahead with building the camps, which Mr. Trump thought was exactly the right thing to do,” Mr. Bolton wrote, adding another top White House official said Mr. Trump made similar comments during his November 2017 trip to China.

Mr. Bolton cited an innumerable number of conversations in which Mr. Trump demonstrated “fundamentally unacceptable behavior that eroded the very legitimacy of the presidency.”

A former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and Fox News television commentator, Mr. Bolton's hawkish approach had worn on a president weary of foreign military entanglements, officials say.

Mr. Trump would sometimes chide Mr. Bolton in meetings, introducing him to visiting foreign leaders by saying, You all know the great John Mr. Bolton. Hell bomb you. Hell take out your whole country.

In excerpts published in the Washington Post , Mr. Bolton writes that Mr. Trump said invading Venezuela would be “cool” and that it was “really part of the United States.”

The U.S. government has publicly said it does not favor using force to topple Venezuela's socialist President Nicolas Maduro.

The book also exposed the sometimes dim view that Mr. Trump's advisers have of him. During a 2018 meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un , Mr. Bolton says he got a note from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo mocking Mr. Trump.

“He is so full of shit,” Mr. Pompeo's note said, according to a Mr. Bolton excerpt in the Washington Post .

Although Mr. Trump is publicly critical of journalists, Mr. Bolton's book quotes the U.S. President making some of his most alarming remarks to date. In a summer 2019 meeting in New Jersey, Mr. Trump allegedly said journalists should be jailed so they have to divulge their sources: “These people should be executed. They are scumbags, according to another excerpt in the Post.

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