Bolton book says Trump asked Chinese president for reelection help

Bolton book says Trump asked Chinese president for reelection help

Washington — President Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton alleges in a new book that Mr. Trump pushed Chinese President Xi Jinping in trade negotiations to agree to purchase American agricultural products in order to boost Mr. Trump’s political standing with U.S. farmers and help him win reelection.

In an excerpt of Bolton’s book, “The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir,” published by The Wall Street Journal, Bolton condemns what he calls the “incoherence” of the president’s trade policy and his focus on winning a second term. The excerpt was published minutes after stories about the memoir’s contents appeared in The New York Times and Washington Post, both of which said they had obtained copies of the book ahead of its June 23 release.

The longtime conservative foreign policy hawk describes a meeting with Xi and Mr. Trump on June 29, 2019, in Osaka, Japan. Bolton says Xi told Mr. Trump “that some (unnamed) American political figures were making erroneous judgments by calling for a new cold war with China.”

“Whether Xi meant to finger the Democrats or some of us sitting on the U.S. side of the table, I don’t know, but Trump immediately assumed that Xi meant the Democrats. Trump said approvingly that there was great hostility to China among the Democrats,” Bolton writes.

“Trump then, stunningly, turned the conversation to the coming U.S. presidential election, alluding to China’s economic capability and pleading with Xi to ensure he’d win. He stressed the importance of farmers and increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat in the electoral outcome,” Bolton continues.

President Donald Trump Welcomes Egypt's President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi To The White House
National security adviser John Bolton listens to President Trump speak during a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi in the Oval Office of the White House on April 9, 2019.

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Bolton writes that he was prevented from reprinting Mr. Trump’s exact language due to the administration’s review of the book, meant to ensure that no classified information was included.

“I would print Trump’s exact words, but the government’s prepublication review process has decided otherwise,” Bolton writes. The Justice Department on Tuesday filed a federal lawsuit against Bolton, who resigned as national security adviser in December 2019, arguing the book contained classified material and should not be published.

“Trump’s conversations with Xi reflected not only the incoherence in his trade policy but also the confluence in Trump’s mind of his own political interests and U.S. national interests,” Bolton says in his book, according to the excerpt in the Journal. “I am hard-pressed to identify any significant Trump decision during my White House tenure that wasn’t driven by reelection calculations.”

However, Bolton also condemns House Democrats for their handling of the impeachment inquiry late last year, accusing them of being too narrowly focused on Mr. Trump’s dealings with the Ukrainian president. Mr. Trump was impeached on counts of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress in December, although he was acquitted of both in February. 

“Had Democratic impeachment advocates not been so obsessed with their Ukraine blitzkrieg in 2019, had they taken the time to inquire more systematically about Trump’s behavior across his entire foreign policy, the impeachment outcome might well have been different,” Bolton writes. Democrats argued that Mr. Trump abused his power by asking the Ukrainian president to investigate Joe Biden, a political rival, and his son.

Bolton refused to testify as part of the House inquiry, and was not called to testify at the subsequent impeachment trial. Democrats have accused him of cynically withholding pertinent knowledge of the president’s actions to boost his book sales. 

“I have seen the reports that John Bolton is claiming the House should have impeached Trump for other matters. Well, thank you John Bolton for being the firefighter that shows up to the building that’s already burned with the fire hose and saying, ‘I’m here to help,'” Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell told reporters on Wednesday afternoon.

The memoir is being published by Simon & Schuster, a division of ViacomCBS.

Published at Wed, 17 Jun 2020 20:05:00 +0000

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