John Bolton book: Trump sought reelection help from China | News | DW | 18.06.2020
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John Bolton book: Trump sought reelection help from China

Election help from China, favors for dictators and thinking it would be "cool" to invade Venezuela: Former US national security adviser John Bolton has made explosive claims about his time working in the White House.

A new book by former US national security advisor John Bolton shows US President Donald Trump to be "stunningly uninformed on how to run the White House."

The New York Times, The Washington Post (WP) and The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) published excerpts from The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir on Wednesday.

Here's a look at some of the major claims:

Election help from China

Trump's decisions were guided by his drive to win reelection, asserts Bolton. This includes a June 2019 conversation with Chinese President Xi Jinping at a G20 summit in Japan.

"With only interpreters present," said Bolton, Trump switched subject, "pleading with Xi to ensure he'd win" the next US presidential election scheduled for November 3.

"He stressed the importance of [US] farmers, and increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat in the electoral outcome," asserted Bolton.  

Uighur internment camps 'right thing to do'

"Xi explained to Trump why he was basically building concentration camps in Xinjiang," China's western predominantly Muslim Uighur province, said Bolton in the excerpt cited by the WSJ.

"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," Bolton said, alluding to global alarm over the internment of 1 million people despite China's denials.

Trump himself signed US legislation Wednesday calling for sanctions over the repression of China's Uighur Muslims, just as Bolton's book excerpts emerged.

Watch video 03:37

Chinese Uighurs – imprisoned for their faith and culture

Intelligence briefings rare

Inside the White House, said Bolton, 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."

Trump was poorly served by staff, asserted Bolton, "saw conspiracies behind rocks, and remained stunningly uninformed on how the run the White House, let alone the huge federal government."

Trump, according to Bolton, had demonstrated "fundamentally unacceptable behavior that eroded the very legitimacy of the presidency."

Error-prone statements

Bolton reported that Trump repeatedly confused the current and former presidents of Afghanistan — despite 18 years of US military intervention.

Former White House chief of staff John Kelly had been asked by Trump if Finland — an EU member nation — was part of Russia.

According to the WP, at a meeting with Britain's former Prime Minister Theresa May, Trump even interjected to ask if "London was a nuclear power."

On Trump's past overtures to reclusive North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Bolton claimed that the US president cared little about denuclearization and only saw his summits with Kim as "an exercise in publicity."

Saudi defense to distract from Ivanka

A 2018 text by Trump in defense of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman — amid outcry over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi — was reportedly to distract media focus from his daughter Ivanka Trump.

She had used her personal email for government business, the WP quoted Bolton as saying, although Trump had lambasted his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton for doing the same during the 2016 US presidential election.

How did Trump react?

The Trump administration is trying to block publication of the book, scheduled for release by Simon & Schuster next Tuesday. The Department of Justice sought an emergency injunction late Wednesday.

But the publisher said the move was "a frivolous, politically motivated exercise in futility."

Ipj/rt (Reuters, AP)