The public got a sneak preview of Micheal Bolton’s White House memoirs on Wednesday. The former national security advisor wasn’t shy about his criticism of President Trump.
The Wall Street Journal published a brief excerpt from “The Room Where it Happened: A White House Memoir,” Bolton’s book. It’s also throwing more fuel on the firestorm of controversy surrounding the Trump White House. In his brief essay, Bolton accuses President Trump of extensive misconduct. He also describes the prevailing attitude inside the Trump Administration as “obstruction as a way of life”.
The excerpt raises serious concerns about the President’s handling of trade negotiations with China. He says Trump’s China advisors are “badly fractured intellectually” and the administration’s handling of trade matters were “completely chaotic”. Bolton wrote, “Trump’s favorite way to proceed was to get small armies of people together, either in the Oval Office or the Roosevelt Room, to argue out these complex, controversial issues. Over and over again, the same issues. Without resolution, or even worse, one outcome one day and a contrary outcome a few days later. The whole thing made my head hurt.”
In an exclusive excerpt from his new book, John Bolton writes that President Trump pleaded with Chinese President Xi Jinping to help ensure Trump would win reelection and called Xi "the greatest leader in Chinese history" https://t.co/htZJiyZmz8
— The Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) June 17, 2020
Bolton also criticizes Trump for pandering to Chinese President Xi Jinping. During his time as national security advisor, Bolton says President Xi extracted major trade concessions from Trump with little more than flattery. He also blasted Trump for loosening his initial sanctions on Huawei and ZTE in order to progress trade negotiations. Bolton also blasted Trump for failing to take a stronger stance on China’s persecution of Uighur Muslims and its Hong Kong crackdown.
All and all, Bolton describes President Trump as an inept negotiator who authoritarian leaders easily manipulate. He also accused the president of prioritizing his reelection efforts over national interests. “Trump commingled the personal and the national not just on trade questions but across the whole field of national security,” Bolton wrote. “I am hard-pressed to identify any significant Trump decision during my White House tenure that wasn’t driven by re-election calculations.”
Shortly after the book’s release, President Trump blasted his former national security advisor at a White House press conference. “He is a liar,” Trump said, “Everybody in the White House hates John Bolton.”
Trump denied giving his President XI a green light to continue building camps for Uighur muslims. He also defended his decision to reverse sanctions against ZTE and Huawei. Trump pointed out that he only reversed his ZTE ruling after the company made changes to their board and paid a $1.3 billion fine. Trump called the ZTE agreement “an unbelievable deal” and defended his treatment of Huawei. “Nobody has ever been so tough on a company as I have to Huawei.”
Trump on Bolton
Trump says Bolton quickly lost his favor after joining the White House staff. “He wasn’t liked at all, and wasn’t respected very much,” Trump said. “And as we got to know him, he was respected less and less. Personally, I thought he was crazy.” The president said Bolton would have pushed the U.S. into another war if he didn’t block him, though he declined to provide specific examples.
Other White House advisors who worked with Bolton agreed that he was difficult to work with. White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said Bolton had difficulties cooperating with his co-workers. “Nothing he touched ever happened, because he couldn’t find consensus,” said Meadows, who worked alongside Bolton as an informal advisor earlier in his White House tenure.
Bolton’s book will roll out on June 23. However, the White House continues to work overtime to block it from going out. The Trump Administration recently sued Bolton for breach of contract regarding his disclosure of national security secrets in the book. It’s unclear whether the legal effort will succeed, but the Trump Administration is hoping to delay the book’s release date at the very least.
The election is less than five months away, and Bolton’s book would undoubtedly damage Trump’s chances at reelection. Regardless of whether the allegations are true, the book will give Trump’s media haters and political opponents a wealth of ammunition to use against the president. Whether Bolton should be regarded as a political whistleblower or a disgruntled ex-employee is up for dispute, but the book’s release can only hurt Trump’s chances at the ballot box.