President Donald Trump asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to help him win reelection in 2020 by purchasing agricultural products from key U.S. states, former national security adviser John Bolton wrote in his new book.
During a Group of 20 summit meeting in Japan last summer, Trump was “pleading with Xi to ensure he’d win,” Bolton wrote in a book excerpt published Wednesday in The Wall Street Journal.
Trump stressed the importance of farmers and of “increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat” to his electoral success, Bolton wrote. He added that he would have printed Trump’s exact words, but the “government’s prepublication review process has decided otherwise.”
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. Trump commingled the personal and the national not just on trade questions but across the whole field of national security. I am hard-pressed to identify any significant Trump decision during my White House tenure that wasn’t driven by reelection calculations.
Neither the Justice Department nor the White House immediately responded to HuffPost’s requests for comment.
Reacting to Bolton’s highly anticipated memoir, “The Room Where It Happened,” Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, blasted Trump in a statement.
“If these accounts are true, it’s not only morally repugnant, it’s a violation of Donald Trump’s sacred duty to the American people to protect America’s interests and defend our values,” the former vice president said of Bolton’s allegation that Trump had sought Xi’s help to get reelected.
Biden also issued a warning to China’s leaders “or anyone else who President Trump might invite to interfere: Stay out of our democracy. Stay out of our elections. The American people alone will decide the future of this country, and I am confident in the choice they will make.”
Bolton makes several startling revelations in his book, which is set to be released Tuesday.
According to the excerpt in the Journal, Trump also encouraged Xi to build camps to imprison Uighur Muslims in China. Bolton said Xi had told Trump during a 2019 G-20 meeting that he was “basically building concentration camps” to detain Uighurs.
“Trump said that Xi should go ahead with building the camps, which Trump thought was exactly the right thing to do,” Bolton wrote of the exchange, quoting an interpreter.
Bolton also wrote that Trump was willing to intervene in Justice Department investigations into Chinese and Turkish companies to curry personal favor with the countries’ autocratic leaders.
The Trump administration sued Bolton on Tuesday to block the publication of the book, arguing that it contains classified information. In response, Bolton’s attorney accused the White House of using national security information as a pretext to censor Bolton.
Bolton, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under President George W. Bush, served as Trump’s national security adviser from April 2018 to September 2019. He resigned amid reports that he disagreed with Trump on certain foreign policy issues, including strategy on North Korea.
Trump claimed he fired Bolton, but Bolton has said this isn’t true and that he was never directly or indirectly asked to resign.
In his book, Bolton bashed House Democrats for focusing too much on Trump’s Ukraine dealings during the impeachment proceedings and not targeting the president’s other foreign policy debacles.
Democrats asked Bolton to testify as part of the impeachment inquiry, but he refused. He said he would testify during the Senate trial if he was issued a subpoena. The Republican-controlled Senate voted 51-49 against calling new witnesses and ultimately acquitted the president.
On Wednesday, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who led the prosecution in the impeachment trial, skewered Bolton over his refusal to testify before the House.
“Bolton may be an author, but he’s no patriot,” Schiff wrote on Twitter.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement that the revelations in Bolton’s book validated House Democrats’ vote to impeach Trump and cast a harsh light on Senate Republicans’ subsequent decision to acquit him.
“It was clear then and could not be any clearer now: the vote to convict and remove Donald Trump from office was absolutely the right vote,” Schumer wrote. “The revelations in Mr. Bolton’s book make Senate Republicans’ craven actions on impeachment look even worse — and history will judge them for it.”
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