Former national security adviser John Bolton is under fire from both the left and the right.
Bolton released a tell-all book this week with scathing claims against President Donald Trump and others in his administration — but it has won him no friends on either side of the aisle.
The White House worked furiously to delay the book, asking a federal court for an emergency temporary restraining order Wednesday against its release. They claim it contains sensitive, classified materials. Experts have said Bolton could be facing criminal charges for releasing the book.
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Meanwhile, Democratic leaders say Bolton’s claims could have aided their failed impeachment of Trump. House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff, who led the impeachment, told “CBS This Morning” that Bolton’s decision to save his information for his book was “the price the country had to pay for John Bolton’s putting profit above country.”
In the book, Bolton’s allegations that Trump solicited Chinese help for his reelection effort carried echoes of Trump’s attempt to get political help from Ukraine, which led to his impeachment.
“I am hard-pressed to identify any significant Trump decision during my tenure that wasn’t driven by re-election calculations,” Bolton claimed.
The White House has denied the claims. On Thursday, Trump denounced the book as “a compilation of lies and made up stories, all intended to make me look bad.”
“Many of the ridiculous statements he attributes to me were never made, pure fiction,” he tweeted.
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Trump accused Bolton of violating the law by releasing the book, telling Fox News Channel’s “Hannity” on Wednesday: “It’s highly classified information, and he did not have approval.”
Several other former officials have written books after leaving office, but most have been flattering about the president. Other former officials have indicated they were saving their accounts of their time working for Trump until after he left office to speak more candidly.
Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser for a 17-month period, called Trump’s attempt to shift the June 2019 conversation with Xi to the U.S. election a stunning move and wrote that it 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.
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.”
As for the meeting with the Chinese president in Osaka, Japan, Bolton wrote that Trump told Xi that Democrats were hostile to China.
“He then, stunningly, turned the conversation to the coming U.S. presidential election, alluding to China’s economic capability to affect the ongoing campaigns, pleading with Xi to ensure he’d win,” Bolton said. “He stressed the importance of farmers, and increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat in the electoral outcome.”
The book, titled “The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir,” is set to be released Tuesday by Simon & Schuster. It has been the subject of a lengthy battle between Bolton and the White House.
The Justice Department sued on Tuesday in an effort to delay publication of the book, claiming that it still contained highly classified information and that a required review by the National Security Council had not been concluded. According to the filing, national security adviser Robert O’Brien initiated a review that deemed additional information to be classified.
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said Wednesday that he attended a meeting between Trump and Xi at the Group of 20 nations in Osaka but never heard Trump pleading with Xi to buy more agriculture products to ensure he would win reelection.
“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 at a Senate hearing on trade issues. “Would I recollect something as crazy as that? Of course I would recollect it.”
In the book, Bolton describes every Trump decision as being guided by concerns for his own reelection, a claim that evokes the scandal that sparked the Democrat-led impeachment last year. The GOP-controlled Senate ultimately acquitted the president in his trial.
Bolton was called to testify before House lawmakers conducting the impeachment inquiry, but he declined to make statements under oath. Bolton claimed he wanted a federal court to decide whether he should heed a White House directive not to cooperate with the inquiry.
The Associated Press contributed to this article