Why Trump wants to stop John Bolton’s book

John Bolton

US President Donald Trump is frantically trying to stop the release of what is a scathing new memoir by Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton.

John Bolton’s book, entitled The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir has already been printed and distributed to booksellers as Trump and the White House ask a federal court for an emergency temporary restraining order as John Bolton’s book allegedly contains classified information.

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Donald Trump has already had to suffer the indignation of an unsuccessful impeachment inquiry brought by the the opposition party, The Democrats, in December last year. In addition, the US economy has nosedived due to the shutdown of industries amongst the coronavirus pandemic. On top of all this, Trump is also falling further and further behind Democrat party presidential nominee Joe Biden in the polls with the election due in November.

Contents of the book are already being leaked with John Bolton accusing the US President of being driven by political self-interest when making national security decisions.

John Bolton claimed Trump was “pleading with Xi (Jinping) to ensure he’d win”. Bolton added that Trump overtly linked tariff talks with China to his own political fortunes by asking President Xi Jinping to buy American agricultural products to help him win farm states in this year’s election. with China’s Xi Jinping during a 2019 summit to help his re-election prospects, which carries echoes of Donald Trump’s alleged attempt to get political help from Ukraine, which led to his impeachment.

John Bolton said that Trump “stressed the importance of farmers, and increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat in the electoral outcome”.

“I am hard-pressed to identify any significant Trump decision during my tenure that wasn’t driven by re-election calculations,” John Bolton writes.

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The 577-page book provides an unvarnished portrait of Donald Trump and his administration, amounting to the most vivid, first-person account yet of how the US President conducts himself in office, the New York Times reported.

Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser for 17 months, said Trump’s conversation with Xi was among innumerable conversations that he found concerning. He added that Congress should have expanded the scope of its impeachment inquiry to these other incidents, reported AP News, which has a copy of the unpublished book.

Deeply critical of the president and much of his senior team, Bolton wrote that because staff had served him so poorly, Trump “saw conspiracies behind rocks, and remained stunningly uninformed on how to run the White House, let alone the huge federal government”.

He added that while he was at the White House, Trump typically had only two intelligence briefings a week “and in most of those, he spoke at greater length than the briefers, often on matters completely unrelated to the subjects at hand”.

The book also includes claims that Trump thought Finland was part of Russia, didn’t know that the UK was a nuclear power and called reporters “scumbags” who should be “executed”.

Bolton wrote that he would print Trump’s exact words, “but the government’s pre-publication review process has decided otherwise”.

The book is set to be released next Tuesday by Simon & Schuster.

The US Justice Department filed a suit on Tuesday in an effort to delay publication of the book, claiming it still contained highly classified information and that a required review by the National Security Council had not been concluded. According to the filing, a career official determined no classified material remained in April, but national security adviser Robert O’Brien initiated a secondary review that deemed additional information to be classified.

The White House’s contention that so much of the book was classified appeared to be a tacit admission that many of Bolton’s allegations were accurate – as inaccurate information could not be classified.

“Disclosure of the manuscript will damage the national security of the United States,” the Trump administration filing said. “The United States asks this court to hold defendant to the legal obligations he freely assumed as a condition of receiving access to classified information and prevent the harm to national security that will result if his manuscript is published to the world.”

Bolton wrote that, due to the review process, he made “numerous changes to the manuscript in order to obtain clearance to publish, the vast bulk of which, in my view, did not change the facts set forth”. He said in some cases he was asked to add phrases like, “in my view,” to make it clear he was expressing his opinion instead of relying on sensitive information. In others, he was asked to describe things more generally. He was asked to remove quotation marks nearly every time he recounts a conversation between Trump and foreign leaders and himself and foreign leaders.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said on Wednesday that he attended a meeting between Trump and Xi at the Group of 20 nations in Osaka, but he never heard Trump pleading with Xi to buy more agriculture products to ensure he would win re-election. Lighthizer spoke at a Senate hearing on trade issues and was asked about Bolton’s recollection of events.

“Absolutely untrue. Never happened. I was there. I have no recollection of that ever happening. I don’t believe it’s true. I don’t believe it ever happened,” Lighthizer said. “Would I recollect something as crazy as that? Of course, I would recollect it.”

Bolton wrote that he raised some of his concerns about Trump’s conversations with foreign leaders with Attorney General William Barr, and with White House attorneys and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

“The pattern looked like obstruction of justice as a way of life, which we couldn’t accept,” he wrote.

Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec denied in a statement that Barr had ever expressed that Trump’s conversations with foreign leaders were improper.

Trump continually pandered to Xi, Bolton wrote. At a White House Christmas dinner in 2018, Bolton said Trump asked why the US was sanctioning China over its treatment of Uighurs. China suspects Uighurs, who are predominantly Muslim and culturally and ethnically distinct from the majority Han Chinese population, of harboring separatist tendencies. In recent years, China has dramatically escalated its campaign against them by detaining more than 1 million people in internment camps and prisons, which it calls vocational training centres.

“At the opening dinner of the Osaka G-20 meeting, with only interpreters present, Xi explained to Trump why he was basically building concentration camps in Xinjiang,” Bolton wrote. “According to our interpreter, Trump said that Xi should go ahead with building the camps, which he thought was exactly the right thing to do.”

The book alleges that Trump directly tied providing military aid to Ukraine to the country’s willingness to conduct investigations into the Bidens. In one conversation, 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,” Bolton writes.

Trump’s decision to withhold military assistance to Ukraine until it agreed to investigate Biden led the Democrats to charge Trump was abusing his power. The aid was ultimately released once the hold-up became public. Trump was acquitted.

Bolton was called to testify before House lawmakers conducting the impeachment inquiry, but he declined, suggesting he wanted a federal court to decide whether he should heed a White House directive not to cooperate with the inquiry.

In advance of the public reports about the details, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the book was “full of classified information, which is inexcusable”.

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