US President Donald Trump urged China to influence US elections and often misunderstood basic geography and international politics, a scathing new book about the Trump administration claims.
Former Trump national security advisor John Bolton writes in his new tell-all memoir of his time in the administration that during a 2019 conversation in Japan with Xi Jinping, Trump spoke about the 2020 US election, "alluding to China’s economic capability to affect the ongoing campaigns, pleading with Xi to ensure he’d win" by buying more soybeans and wheat.
Bolton said this was among several conversations the US president had which "formed a pattern of fundamentally unacceptable behaviour that eroded the very legitimacy of the presidency”.
Bolton was Trump's national security adviser for 17 months before quitting - Trump said he was fired - in September 2019. His 577-page memoir is set to be released next week but was released to media organisations early.
The Trump White House has tried to prevent the book from being published, recently suing Bolton and demanding he complete a prepublication review process to check for classified information.
The controversial figure is a well-known war hawk who supported pulling the United States out of the Iran Nuclear Deal. He previously served as UN ambassador for President George W. Bush and supported the Iraq War.
Bolton also worked for Presidents George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan.
After sections of the book were released by media organisations, Trump said Bolton was a "disgruntled boring fool who only wanted to go to war."
Among the other embarrassing blunders listed throughout Bolton's book entitled "The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir,” include misunderstandings of basic questions of geography and policy.
Bolton says Trump did not know that the United Kingdom was a nuclear power and he thought Finland was part of Russia.
Bolton says Trump also, according to an interpreter, told Xi Jinping to continue building camps for Uighurs, an ethnic minority in China that the government has dramatically escalated a campaign against.
In one troubling exchange, Bolton records that Trump also called reporters “scumbags” who should be “executed.”
“I am hard-pressed to identify any significant Trump decision during my tenure that wasn’t driven by re-election calculations,” Bolton wrote.
Critics of the Trump administration said Bolton should have revealed certain details earlier, not waiting for a $2 million book deal to unveil the information about the president.
The book alleges that Trump tied military funding to Ukraine to the country opening an investigation into his Democratic rival Joe Biden which was the subject of Trump's impeachment.
Bolton writes that Trump "wasn’t in favour of sending them anything until all the Russia-investigation materials related to Clinton and Biden had been turned over."
Bolton had refused to testify about Ukraine during the impeachment proceedings but eventually agreed to be a witness at the Senate trial. However, Senate Republicans blocked witnesses from being called at the trial.