US President Donald Trump attacked former national security adviser John Bolton during several interviews late Wednesday, saying the former aide didn’t get approval to publish a forthcoming book about his White House experience and therefore broke the law.
“He is a liar,” Trump told The Wall Street Journal, adding that “everybody in the White House hated John Bolton.”
The blowout comes after damning details from Bolton’s forthcoming book, “The Room Where It Happened,” were published in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. Bolton writes of several startling events during his tenure, including instances where Trump asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to help him win reelection in 2020 by purchasing agricultural products from key U.S. states and another where the president urged Xi to build facilities akin to concentration camps for Uighur Muslims.
Bolton resigned last September amid clashes over foreign policy in Iran and North Korea, although Trump claims he fired him.
“In terms of Bolton, he broke the law,” Trump told Fox News host Sean Hannity during an interview Wednesday night. “He was a washed-up guy. I gave him a chance. He couldn’t get Senate confirmed, so I gave him a non-Senate confirmed position. ... I wasn’t very enamoured.”
The president went on to reject Bolton’s assertions, saying “nobody” had been tougher on China or Russia during their tenure in the White House.
Several books have been written about the Trump administration by former aides and journalists, but Bolton’s memoir is the first by a high-ranking official who was present during key policy decisions. Bolton is also a well-known, if polarising, figure in conservative circles.
The White House has sued to block the publication of the book, scheduled for release Tuesday, saying it contains classified information that could compromise national security. But Bolton and his legal team argue they went through a lengthy review process, and they accused Trump of attempting to censor Bolton.
The book quickly became an Amazon No. 1 bestseller, and copies have already been printed and shipped to warehouses.
Early details released before the book’s publication showcase troubling moves by Trump throughout his administration. Bolton claims the president routinely tried to stymie criminal investigations and, “in effect, give personal favors to dictators he liked.” The former White House adviser said he reported his concerns to Attorney General William Barr.
“The pattern looked like obstruction of justice as a way of life,” Bolton wrote, according to the Times, which obtained an advanced copy of the book.
He goes on to lambaste Democrats’ impeachment proceedings, saying the party rushed forward and should have investigated other abuses by the president linked to his favouritism toward China’s Xi and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Bolton deeply frustrated lawmakers during the impeachment efforts after he declined to testify during the House impeachment inquiry, saying he would wait for a court decision on whether former aides were required to speak. He later said he would testify before the Senate, where Republicans hold a majority, if he was subpoenaed, but GOP lawmakers blocked him as a witness.