WASHINGTON — In a series of allegations, U.S. President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, John Bolton, said on Wednesday that Trump sought Chinese President Xi Jinping’s help to win re-election during a closed-door June 2019 meeting.
Bolton, who Trump fired in September after 17 months in the White House job, also said that the U.S. president had expressed a willingness to halt criminal investigations to give “personal favours to dictators he liked,” according to an excerpt published in the New York Times.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The accusations are part of a book that the U.S. government on Tuesday sued to block Bolton from publishing, arguing it contained classified information and would compromise national security. Excerpts from The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir were published in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and the Washington Post.
Just four months ago, the Republican-controlled Senate voted to acquit Trump on charges brought by the Democratic-led House of Representatives stemming from his dealings with Ukraine, only the third time in U.S. history that a president has been impeached.
Bolton’s allegations provide new ammunition to critics just before the Nov. 3 presidential election, including his behind-the-scenes accounts of Trump’s conversations with China’s Xi – which, in one case, broached the topic of the U.S. vote.
“Trump then, stunningly, turned the conversation to the coming U.S. presidential election, alluding to China’s economic capability and pleading with Xi to ensure he’d win,” Bolton wrote, according to excerpts of his book published in the Wall Street Journal.
“He stressed the importance of farmers and increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat in the electoral outcome.”
Bolton said that Democrats erred in their impeachment inquiry by focusing solely on Ukraine, given what he said were an innumerable number of conversations in which Trump demonstrated “fundamentally unacceptable behaviour that eroded the very legitimacy of the presidency.”
“Had they taken the time to inquire more systematically about Trump’s behaviour across his entire foreign policy, the impeachment outcome might well have been different,” Bolton writes in the Wall Street Journal.
In excerpts published in the Washington Post, Bolton writes that Trump said invading Venezuela would be “cool” and that it was “really part of the United States.”
The U.S. government has publicly said it does not favour using force to topple Venezuela’s socialist President Nicolas Maduro.
The book also exposed the sometimes dim view that Trump’s advisors have of him. During a 2018 meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Bolton says he got a note from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo mocking Trump.
“He is so full of shit,” the note said, according to a Bolton excerpt in the Washington Post.
Although Trump is publicly critical of journalists, Bolton’s book quotes the U.S. president making some of his most alarming remarks to date. In a summer 2019 meeting in New Jersey, Trump allegedly said journalists should be jailed so they have to divulge their sources: “These people should be executed. They are scumbags,” according to another excerpt in the Post.