In his book “The Room Where It Happened,” to be published on Tuesday, John Bolton, former national security adviser to Donald Trump, portrays a ill-advised president, fascinated by autocrats and obsessed with his reelection, even at the risk of putting danger to the United States.
Here are five key passages, based on excerpts published in the press:
All for Re-election
“I am having trouble finding a single major Trump decision, during my tenure, that was not guided by a re-election calculation,” writes Bolton, who accuses the president of confusing “his own political interests and the national interest.”
And he gives an overwhelming example: on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Osaka in June 2019, Trump “surprisingly led the conversation” with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to the US presidential election, pleading with him to help him win and he in turn agreed to increase Chinese agricultural purchases.
For Bolton, this confirms “basically unacceptable behavior that erodes the legitimacy of the presidency.” Worse yet, he suggests there were good reasons to remove Trump, beyond the Ukrainian case that led to his acquittal.
If Democrats “had taken the time to investigate Trump’s behavior more systematically across the spectrum of his foreign policy, the outcome of the indictment could have been very different,” he wrote.
Flirting with Autocrats
According to the book, until the arrival of the coronavirus, Trump never spared praise for Xi Jinping. “You have been the best Chinese leader in 300 years,” he told Xi, according to Bolton.
This flirting with a rival considered by his own field as an autocrat adds, according to the former adviser, is to a marked disinterest in the defense of human rights.
Also in June 2019, “Xi explained to Trump why he was building concentration camps in Xinjiang” to intern Uighur Muslims. Trump accepted his arguments, Bolton argues.
The president also attacks journalists with particular virulence. “They deserve to be executed. They are trash,” says the book Trump went on to say.
Bolton describes a trivial-obsessed Trump with no long-term strategy.
As the rapprochement with North Korea lost ground after the 2018 summit with Kim Jong Un, Trump was concerned about giving the North Korean leader a CD with the song “Rocket Man”, autographed by Elton John, alluding to the nickname that He himself placed Kim at the most critical moment in bilateral relations.
Trump has shown little general culture, such as when he asked if Finland was still “a satellite of Russia” or when he seemed to ignore Britain’s nuclear power status.
Criticized from the back
Some of his main collaborators tend to publicly praise the president but criticize him from behind, says the former adviser.
That would be the case of the Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo. In the middle of the summit with Kim, the head of the American diplomacy passed Bolton a message referring to Trump: “He only tells lies.”
Another example: when John Kelly was Trump’s chief of staff, he was worried about what would happen to the country if “with his way of making decisions there were a crisis like the one of September 11” in 2001.