Eight Takeaways From John Bolton’s Explosive New Memoir

John Bolton lays out a series of explosive allegations. These eight you should pay attention to.

Photo by Shealah Craghead

John Bolton’s tell-all memoir, The Room Where It Happened, should officially publish next week. Its contents have the Trump administration on edge, starting a legal battle over the publication of the book. Manuscripts of Bolton’s memoirs already made their way to journalists and reviewers. Bolton lays out a series of eye-popping allegations, some of which concerns Trump’s impeachment trial, in which Bolton said he would not testify unless subpoenaed. Bolton claims that House should have investigated Trump not just for his involvement with Ukraine, but also for the times he tried to use trade negotiations and criminal investigations to aid his reelection bid. 

Here are some main takeaways from Bolton’s tell-all memoir:

1. Trump asked Chinese President for help in reelection

At the June 2019 G-20 meeting in Osaka, Japan, Trump met with President Xi Jinping and urged him to boost the Chinese purchases of American agricultural products, claiming that Midwestern farmers were the key to his reelection in 2020. Trump promised to waive some tariffs on China in exchange for Xi’s cooperation, according to Bolton. 

2. Trump told the Chinese President to keep building concentration camps

Bolton writes that Trump condoned the construction of concentration camps in China to imprison their Uyghur Muslim population. According to a U.S. interpreter in the room during a conversation between Trump and Xi at the same G-20 meeting in 2019, Trump said Xi should go ahead with the building of the camps, which he thought was “exactly the right thing to do." 

Bolton writes, “religious repression in China was also not on Trump's agenda; whether it was the Catholic Church or Falun Gong, it didn't register." 

3. Trump offered to help Turkish President avoid a Justice Department probe

In 2018, Trump offered to help President Recep Tayyip Erdogan avoid a Justice Department investigation into a Turkish bank, linked to Erdogan, suspected of violating U.S.-Iran sanctions. When Erdogan presented Trump with a memo from a law firm representing Halkbank, Trump looked through it and said he believed the bank to be innocent.

Trump told Erdogan that he would "take care of things" once he replaced the Southern District prosecutors, whom Trump called “Obama people.” Bolton disputed this, saying that Justice Department prosecutors would investigate Halkbank regardless of who was President. 

4. Trump repeatedly suggested invading Venezuela

In his memoir, Bolton writes that during discussions about toppling the regime of Nicolas Maduro, Trump "insisted on military options for Venezuela" and said that the country "is really part of the United States." During a meeting at the Pentagon in March 2019, Trump asked military leaders why the U.S. was in Afghanistan and Iraq but not in Venezuela. 

5. Mike Pompeo mocked Trump

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, known for his loyalty to Trump, possibly trash-talked the president. During a meeting between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, when Kim urged for the leaders to work quickly towards a nuclear agreement, Trump told Kim he would get the Senate to ratify any agreements with North Korea. In a school-like manner, Pompeo passed Bolton a notepad on which he scribbled "he is so full of shit."

6. Trump asked if Finland was part of Russia

Before meeting Putin in Helsinki, Trump asked his advisors if Finland was part of Russia or if it was a "kind of satellite of Russia." 

Trump asked quite a few concerning questions about global politics. When he met with then-British Prime Minister Theresa May, May’s national security advisor spoke about nuclear power to which Trump reportedly asked “'oh, are you a nuclear power?” Bolton wrote he knew this was “not intended as a joke.”

On several occasions, according to Bolton, Trump mixed up Afghan President Ashraf Ghani with former President Hamid Karzai.

7. Trump disliked sanctions on Russia

Despite touting U.S. sanctions on Russia in public, Trump privately complained about sanctions and other punitive measures imposed on Russia. In response to Russia’s poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the U.K., the U.S. rolled out the first round of sanctions on the country, which Trump wanted to rescind, claiming they were too tough on President Vladimir Putin. 

8. Trump wanted to make reporters serve time in jail

When news leaked about a discreet meeting on Afghanistan at Trump’s Bedminster resort, Trump was dissatisfied with what CNN reported. Trump told White House counsel Pat Cipollone to call Attorney General Bill Barr that he wanted to "arrest the reporters, force them to serve time in jail, and then demand they disclose their sources."

Government officials denied or did not address many of Bolton’s allegations. Robert Lighthizer, Trump’s trade representative, denied that Trump asked China for help with his reelection. In a Senate hearing on Wednesday, Lighthizer said, “never happened. I was there. I have no recollection of that ever happening. I don’t believe it’s true.”

 

 


 

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