White House Chaos and ‘Personal Favors to Dictators’: 11 Insane Revelations From Bolton’s Book


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A series of reports on John Bolton’s upcoming book published Wednesday afternoon, revealing shocking anecdotes and moments that the former national security adviser observed while working for President Donald Trump.

The New York Times and Washington Post published their reports based on copies of The Room Where It Happened, Bolton’s upcoming memoir which is expected to contain numerous examples of Trump’s alleged impeachable conduct and chaotic foreign policy. The Wall Street Journal published an excerpt of the book on Wednesday afternoon as well.

The book — out June 23 — earned fresh publicity this week when the Justice Department filed a lawsuit to stop its release, claiming it violates their prepublication review on classified information.

We assembled some of the most shocking revelations from new reporting on Bolton’s tome.

Trump plead with Chinese President Xi Jinping to help him win the 2020 election

From the Washington Post:

President Trump asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to help him win the 2020 U.S. election, telling Xi during a summit dinner last year that increased agricultural purchases by Beijing from American farmers would aid his electoral prospects.

During a one-on-one meeting at the June 2019 Group of 20 summit in Japan, Xi complained to Trump about China critics in the United States. But Bolton writes in a book scheduled to be released next week that “Trump immediately assumed Xi meant the Democrats. Trump said approvingly that there was great hostility among the Democrats.

“He then, stunningly, turned the conversation to the coming U.S. presidential election, alluding to China’s economic capability to affect the ongoing campaigns, pleading with Xi to ensure he’d win,” Bolton writes. “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.”

“I am hard pressed to identify any significant Trump decision during my tenure that wasn’t driven by reelection calculations,” Bolton wrote, per the Post.

Trump’s “personal favors” for dictators

Bolton reportedly describes several instances in which Trump appeared willing to halt criminal investigations and conducted diplomacy “to, in effect, give personal favors to dictators he liked.” Bolton cited cases with China and Turkey that raised alarm bells.

Per the Post:

The request for electoral assistance from Xi is one of many instances described by Bolton in which Trump seeks favors or approval from authoritarian leaders. Many of those same leaders were also happy to take advantage of the U.S. president and attempt to manipulate him, Bolton writes, often through simplistic appeals to his various obsessions.

In one May 2019 phone call, for example, Russian President Vladimir Putin compared Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó to 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, part of what Bolton terms a “brilliant display of Soviet style proganda” to shore up support for Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro. Putin’s claims, Bolton writes, “largely persuaded Trump.”

In May 2018, Bolton says, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan handed Trump a memo claiming innocence for a Turkish firm under investigation by the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York for violating Iranian sanctions.

“Trump then told Erdogan he would take care of things, explaining that the Southern District prosecutors were not his people, but were Obama people, a problem that would be fixed when they were replaced by his people,” Bolton writes.

Pompeo and others mock Trump behind his back

Bolton writes that even Trump’s most loyal advisers would mock him behind closed doors. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, like his predecessor Rex Tillerson, made unflattering comments about the president’s intelligence “behind his back.” One example was in Pompeo’s sour view of Trump’s diplomacy with North Korea, and how apparently, he did not think it was getting any better over time.

Per the Times:

During Mr. Trump’s 2018 meeting with North Korea’s leader, according to the book, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo slipped Mr. Bolton a note disparaging the president, saying, “He is so full of shit.”

A month later, Mr. Bolton writes, Mr. Pompeo dismissed the president’s North Korea diplomacy, declaring that there was “zero probability of success.”

Trump called journalists “scumbags” and said they should be “executed”

Trump called journalists “scumbags” and said they should be jailed so they have to divulge their sources during the summer of 2019, per Bolton.

“These people should be executed. They are scumbags,” Trump said, according to Bolton’s account reported by the Post.

Trump encouraged Chinese President Xi to continue building concentration camps for largely Muslim Uighurs

This one is from the excerpt of Bolton’s book, published in the Wall Street Journal:

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. 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 didn’t know what Finland is

This one speaks for itself. Per the Times:

Mr. Trump did not seem to know, for example, that Britain is a nuclear power and asked if Finland is part of Russia, Mr. Bolton writes. He came closer to withdrawing the United States from NATO than previously known.

Trump pit advisers against each other

Bolton raised questions about whether Trump learned anything from intelligence briefs since the president preferred to do most of the talking, and would often say things Bolton called “the opposite of the truth.” Trump also reportedly enjoyed stirring up drama between those working for him.

From the Times:

Mr. Trump likes pitting staff members against one another, at one point telling Mr. Bolton that former Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson had once referred to Nikki R. Haley, then the ambassador to the United Nations, by a sexist obscenity — an assertion Mr. Bolton seemed to doubt but found telling that the president would make it.

Officials sought to stop Trump on Ukraine

The book goes into depth with what Bolton saw when Trump held up congressionally-approved security aid to Ukraine and conditioned its release on investigations into Hillary Clinton and Trump’s 2020 election rival, Joe Biden. The Ukraine scandal — which is what got Trump impeached in the Democratically-controlled House — receives a good deal of attention from Bolton, who is reportedly highly critical of Democrats but indicts Trump’s actions as well. He stops short, according to these reports, of stating whether Trump’s conduct was impeachable.

He does say, according to the Times, that senior administration officials tried a staggering number of Times to get Trump to release aid to Ukraine:

Bolton writes, Mr. Trump “said he wasn’t in favor of sending them anything until all the Russia-investigation materials related to Clinton and Biden had been turned over.” Mr. Bolton writes that he, Mr. Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper tried eight to 10 times to get Mr. Trump to release the aid.

Bolton argued Democrats should have looked into more misconduct as part of impeachment probe

From the Times:

Mr. Bolton, however, had nothing for scorn for the House Democrats who impeached Mr. Trump, saying they committed “impeachment malpractice” by limiting their inquiry to the Ukraine matter and moving too quickly for their own political reasons. Instead, he said they should have also looked at how Mr. Trump was willing to intervene in investigations into companies like Turkey’s Halkbank to curry favor with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey or China’s ZTE to favor President Xi Jinping.

Bolton reported Trump’s conduct to Bill Barr, White House lawyers

Bolton admits that he does not know everything about what he saw and whether it was impeachable, “but he reported them to Mr. Barr and Pat A. Cipollone, the White House counsel,” per the Times. This presents evidence of real concern that Trump’s conduct might have been abuse of power and was worth investigating. More:

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 guide of national interest,” Mr. Bolton writes. “Had the House not focused solely on the Ukraine aspects of Trump’s confusion of his personal interests,” he adds, then “there might have been a greater chance to persuade others that ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ had been perpetrated.

Trump spent months trying to get Pompeo to deliver an Elton John CD to North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un

Remember how Trump famously nicknamed Kim Jong Un “Little Rocket Man”?

According to the Post’s report on Bolton’s book, the quest to have a Rocket Man CD delivered to Kim was a “high priority” for Trump for months:

In the months following the summit, Bolton described Trump’s inordinate interest in Pompeo delivering an autographed copy of Elton John’s “Rocket Man” CD to Kim during Pompeo’s follow on visit to North Korea. Trump originally used the term “Rocket Man” to criticize the North Korean leader but subsequently tried to convince Kim that it was a term of affection.

“Trump didn’t seem to realize Pompeo hadn’t actually seen Kim Jong Un [during the trip], asking if Pompeo had handed” the CD, wrote Bolton. “Pompeo had not. Getting this CD to Kim remained a high priority for several months.”

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