Former national security adviser John Bolton alleges in his upcoming 592-page memoir that President Trump regularly gives "personal favors to dictators he liked," backed the idea of more concentration camps in China, and asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to help him in the 2020 election, according to excerpts obtained and published by several media outlets.
Trump also apparently was unaware that Britain is a nuclear power and asked whether Finland is part of Russia, according to Bolton -- who also claimed that during Trump's 2018 visit with North Korea's leaders, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo handed Bolton a note saying of Trump, “He is so full of sh--."
The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday published an excerpt of the book, and The New York Times and The Washington Post also published stories based on parts of the manuscript. Fox News has confirmed the quotes in The New York Times' story.
According to these excerpts, Bolton also reserved harsh words for Democrat impeachment managers who demanded he testify as part of their inquiry into Trump's dealings with Ukraine. "Had Democratic impeachment advocates not been so obsessed with their Ukraine blitzkrieg in 2019, had they taken the time to inquire more systematically about Trump’s behavior across his entire foreign policy, the impeachment outcome might well have been different," Bolton wrote.
The colorful excerpts come a day after the Department of Justice filed a complaint in federal court over Bolton's "Hamilton"-inspired book, “The Room Where It Happened." The memoir, set for release next week, "has not completed prepublication review" and still "contains classified information" that could endanger national security, the government said. Bolton served as national security adviser from April 2018 to September 2019 and was United Nations ambassador in the George W. Bush administration.
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, speaking at a Senate hearing on Wednesday, denied Bolton's claims that Trump had sought China's help with the election. "Absolutely untrue," he said. "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."
Trump allies have previously accused Bolton of trying to sell books with incendiary claims, noting that he was paid $2 million for the memoir and refused to testify during Trump's impeachment proceedings. Democrats were upset with Bolton at the time, saying he had even declined to produce an affidavit in the Senate trial, for unclear reasons. On Wednesday afternoon, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who led Democrats' impeachment effort, slammed Bolton in no uncertain terms.
"Bolton’s staff were asked to testify before the House to Trump’s abuses, and did," Schiff tweeted. "They had a lot to lose and showed real courage. When Bolton was asked, he refused, and said he’d sue if subpoenaed. Instead, he saved it for a book. Bolton may be an author, but he’s no patriot."
The White House has repeatedly challenged Bolton's credibility, and The Federalist's Sean Davis pointed out that Bolton advanced false narratives in the run-up to the Iraq war in 2003. A string of resurfaced video clips earlier this year led Trump to tweet "GAME OVER!" -- including an interview of Bolton in August 2019 where he appears to have no issues with Trump foreign policy concerning Ukraine or any other nation. The interview seemingly contradicted assertions in Bolton's book that Trump explicitly told him he wanted to tie military aid to Ukraine to an investigation into Joe and Hunter Biden. (Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said his communications with Trump involved no pressure for any investigation.)
At one point in his memoir, Bolton makes reference to edits made to his book as a result of the prepublication review process, as he accused the president of soliciting foreign election help during a June 29, 2019 meeting with Xi in Osaka, Japan.
"Xi told Trump that the U.S.-China relationship was the most important in the world. He said that some (unnamed) American political figures were making erroneous judgments by calling for a new Cold War with China," Bolton wrote, according to an excerpt reviewed by Fox News. "Whether Xi meant to finger the Democrats or some of us sitting on the U.S. side of the table, I don’t know, but Trump immediately assumed that Xi meant the Democrats."
That's when, according to Bolton, the conversation took a troubling turn.
"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. "He stressed the importance of farmers and increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat in the electoral outcome. I would print Trump’s exact words, but the government’s prepublication review process has decided otherwise."
The president then urged China to "buy as many American farm products as China could," Bolton wrote, and "Xi agreed that we should restart the trade talks, welcoming Trump’s concession that there would be no new tariffs and agreeing that the two negotiating teams should resume discussions on farm products on a priority basis."
Bolton also wrote: "At the opening dinner of the Osaka G20 meeting, with only interpreters present, Xi explained to Trump why he was basically building concentration camps in Xinjiang. According to our interpreter, Trump said that Xi should go ahead with building the camps, which he thought was exactly the right thing to do. [The National Security Council’s top Asia staffer Matthew] Pottinger told me Trump said something very similar during the 2017 trip to China, which meant we could cross repression of the Uighurs off our list of possible reasons to sanction China, at least as long as trade negotiations continued."
Bolton went on to say that Trump's last-minute decision to avoid a stronger retaliation against Iran in June 2019 -- including the use of deadly force against soldiers -- was "the most irrational thing" he had ever seen a president do.
Separately, Bolton said he met with Attorney General Bill Barr concerning Trump's penchant for giving "personal favors to dictators he liked," including in China and Turkey. "The pattern looked like obstruction of justice as a way of life, which we couldn’t accept,” Bolton said.
For example, in May 2018, Trump told Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that "he would take care of things, explaining that the Southern District prosecutors were not his people, but were Obama people, a problem that would be fixed when they were replaced by his people." That assurance came after Erdogan gave Trump a memo arguing that a Turkish company being investigated by the prosecutors was innocent.
The DOJ pointed Fox News on Wednesday to a previous statement affirming that Barr and Bolton did not discuss any "personal favors" or "undue influence" on investigations, and that Barr did not tell Bolton hat any of Trump's conversations with foreign leaders were improper.
"I am hard-pressed to identify any significant Trump decision during my White House tenure that wasn’t driven by reelection calculations," Bolton concluded. "Take Trump’s handling of the threats posed by the Chinese telecommunications firms Huawei and ZTE. [Commerce Secretary Wilbur] Ross and others repeatedly pushed to strictly enforce U.S. regulations and criminal laws against fraudulent conduct, including both firms’ flouting of U.S. sanctions against Iran and other rogue states. The most important goal for Chinese 'companies' like Huawei and ZTE is to infiltrate telecommunications and information-technology systems, notably 5G, and subject them to Chinese control (though both companies, of course, dispute the U.S. characterization of their activities)."
Bolton went on: "Trump, by contrast, saw this not as a policy issue to be resolved but as an opportunity to make personal gestures to Xi. In 2018, for example, he reversed penalties that Ross and the Commerce Department had imposed on ZTE. In 2019, he offered to reverse criminal prosecution against Huawei if it would help in the trade deal -- which, of course, was primarily about getting Trump reelected in 2020."
Meanwhile, the Justice Department wants a federal court to issue an order to Bolton “to notify his publisher that he was not authorized to disclose 'The Room Where It Happened.'"
Bolton attorney Charles Cooper responded Tuesday night: “We are reviewing the government’s complaint, and will respond in due course.”
"I am hard-pressed to identify any significant Trump decision during my White House tenure that wasn’t driven by reelection calculations."
The Trump administration has long contended that a manuscript of Bolton’s memoir contained classified information, but that the way the material was woven into the narrative would make a traditional “scrub” impossible.
Sources told Fox News the classified information was “part and parcel” of the entire storyline.
The memoir has been expected to claim that Trump’s “transgressions” went well beyond the Ukraine saga that led to his impeachment and alleged that “reelection calculations” drove the president’s major decisions, according to a press release for the book.
“This is the book Donald Trump doesn’t want you to read,” the release stated.
“Drawn from his personal participation in key events, and filled with perspective and humor, Bolton covers an array of topics -- chaos in the White House, sure, but also assessments of major players, the president’s inconsistent, scattershot decision-making process, and his dealings with allies and enemies alike, from China, Russia, Ukraine, North Korea, Iran, the UK, France and Germany,” the book's publisher said in a statement.
Fox News' John Roberts and Andrew O'Reilly contributed to this report.