During a personal meeting at the June 2019 G-20 summit, United States President Donald Trump asked China’s President Xi Jinping to assist him in getting reelected in the November elections, according to Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton’s tell-all memoir, “The Room Where It Happened.”
Trump told Xi that increased agricultural purchases from American farmers by Beijing would aid his reelection bid. At the summit dinner Xi complained about the US’ criticism toward China and according to Bolton’s account, Trump assumed Xi’s complaint was targeted toward Democrats to which he agreed that Democrats had hostility toward China.
“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 in the 592-paged memoir obtained by Washington Post, New York Times and Wall Street Journal.
“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.”
When Xi defended China’s construction of camps reportedly housing one million Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang, Trump approved saying that he thought it was the right course of action.
“Trump said that Xi should go ahead with building the camps, which Trump thought was exactly the right thing to do,” wrote Bolton.
Bolton’s accounts come after Trump was impeached by the Democratic-majority House in December 2019 for soliciting Ukraine’s assistance in investigating Democrats including presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden, his son and Trump’s former electoral opponent Hillary Clinton, in exchange for providing Ukraine with military aid.
However, Trump was later acquitted by the Republican majority Senate.
Bolton’s exposés also come amid the Trump administration’s efforts to portray the president as tougher on Beijing in comparison to Biden ahead of the upcoming November elections.
On the Ukraine scandal, Bolton confirms Democrats’ accusations against Trump by citing a personal conversation in which Trump explicitly stated the deal.
“He said he wasn’t in favor of sending them anything until all Russia-investigation material related to [Hillary] Clinton and Biden had been turned over.”
Bolton writes that most of Trump’s decisions have been motivated by his desire to secure a second term in the upcoming elections.
“I am hard pressed to identify any significant Trump decision during my tenure that wasn’t driven by reelection calculations.”
Foreign policy criticism
Citing other instances of Trump’s foreign policy decisions that were criticized from top White House officials, Bolton mentions a May 2018 incident in which Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan handed Trump a memo stating that the Turkish firm under investigation by the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York for violating US sanctions on Iran, was innocent.
“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.”
On the subject of Venezuela, Bolton writes about how in 2018 in Trump’s quest to please Florida Republicans, Trump talked about his desire to overthrow Nicolas Maduro, currently recognized by 20 nations as the President of Venezuela. Florida Republicans wanted the support of the state’s Cuban-American and Venezuelan immigrant voters who opposed Maduro’s socialist regime in Venezuela.
However, when presented with an opportunity by Bolton to support Juan Guaidó, now recognized by 60 nations as Venezuela’s President, Trump remained worried that Guaidó was “a kid” compared to “tough” Maduro and went to the extent of proposing a military option.
“Trump still wanted a military option, raising questions with the Florida Republicans who were plainly stunned, except for (Senator Marco) Rubio who had heard it before and knew how to deflect it politely."
“None of us thought that a military option was advisable at this point,” writes Bolton, referring to himself, then acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford.
“To me, this exercise was solely to keep Trump interested in the objective of overthrowing Maduro, without actually wasting a lot of time on a nonstarter."
Bolton also criticized Trump’s actions at the 2018 Helsinki summit, when instead of siding with US intelligence agencies over Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential elections, Trump sided with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.
“This was hardly the way to do relations with Russia, and Putin had to be laughing uproariously at what he had gotten away with in Helsinki.”
Bolton also levels much criticism at Trump’s handling of his first diplomatic meeting with North Korea’s Leader Kim Jong Un during the 2018 North Korea-United States Singapore Summit. Bolton wrote that Trump cared little about denuclearization efforts, instead he saw the summit meeting as “an exercise in publicity.”
“Trump told … me he was prepared to sign a substance-free communiqué, have his press conference to declare victory and then get out of town.”
For months after the summit, Trump remained fixated on his desire to have US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo deliver an autographed copy of Elton John’s Rocket Man CD to Kim, in an attempt to convince the North Korean leader that Trump’s description of him as “Little Rocket Man” was not a criticism but rather, a term of endearment.
“Getting this CD to Kim remained a high priority for several months.”
Bolton further recounts how he was able to prevent Trump from telling US allies that the nation would withdraw from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) if allies didn’t increase defense spending by January 2020.
In justification of his initial motivation to withdraw, Trump asked Bolton, “Do you want to do something historic?”
Trump’s history of “erratic” and “stunningly uninformed” statements
Bolton recalls Trump asking former Chief of Staff John Kelly if Finland is part of Russia, he was also unaware that Britain was a nuclear power and said that invading Venezuela would be “cool” and asserted that the nation was “really part of the United States.”
In a 2019 summer meeting, when describing journalists, Trump said, “These people should be executed. They are scumbags,” according to Bolton’s account.
When speaking on the conflict in Afghanistan, Trump stated, “This was done by a stupid person named George Bush.”
Bolton also describes how Trump repeatedly lambasted US military leaders, demanding for troops to be withdrawn from the Middle East, Africa and Europe.
“I want to get out of everything,” he stated during a meeting at his golf club in Bedminster, NJ.
Bolton further states how he, former Chief of Staff Kelly and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had considered resigning out of frustration during their tenure at the White House.
“What if we have a real crisis like 9/11 with the way he makes decisions?” Kelly is quoted as saying in the book.
“He second-guessed people’s motives, saw conspiracies behind rocks, and remained stunningly uninformed on how to run the White House, let alone the huge federal government,” Bolton writes, criticizing Trump for operating by “personal instinct” and always desiring opportunities for “reality TV showmanship.”
The legal battle continues
On Tuesday, the Trump administration had filed a lawsuit against Bolton in an attempt to delay the publication of his memoir, scheduled to be released on June 22.
Copies of its manuscript have already been obtained by numerous publications that have revealed many explosive details of the book.
Despite this, on Wednesday night the Justice Department sought an emergency order from a Washington court to block the publication of the book.
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