Trump, White House Push Back on Bolton Allegations

June 18, 2020 Updated: June 18, 2020

President Donald Trump and top officials in his administration are challenging allegations made by John Bolton, who was Trump’s national security adviser before being fired in 2019.

Bolton made a number of claims in a book he’s trying to release despite efforts to block the publishing because it would disclose classified information. Bolton at one point claims Trump asked China’s leader Xi Jinping for help in winning re-election.

“Absolutely untrue, never happened,” U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told lawmakers at a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Wednesday when presented with that claim. “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.”

The Trump administration sued Bolton this week in an attempt to block the release of the book.

John Ratcliffe, the director of national intelligence, said on June 17 that “unauthorized disclosures of classified information damage our national security.”

Ratcliffe
Then-Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) speaks to media while other impeachment defense team advisors look on, at the Capitol in Washington on Jan. 27, 2020. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

Trump later in the day said Bolton “broke the law” by disclosing “highly classified information” in his book.

Bolton couldn’t get approved to a Senate-confirmed position, so he gave him the adviser role, the president said.

“Nobody’s been tough like me on China,” Trump asserted. “We’re taking in right now billions and billions of dollars from China. I gave a lot of it to the farmers, because the farmers were targeted by China. Nobody’s ever done that.”

He was speaking during an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity.

In a missive on Twitter, Trump said that Bolton’s book is full of “lies” and “fake stories.”

“Said all good about me, in print, until the day I fired him. A disgruntled boring fool who only wanted to go to war. Never had a clue, was ostracized & happily dumped,” he said.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters in Washington early Thursday that the book is still making its way through a review process for classified information it contains. “We take classified information seriously. John Bolton apparently does not,” she said.

The pushback came as ABC News released a snippet of an interview it recently conducted with Bolton.

john bolton
Former National Security Adviser John Bolton leaves his home in Bethesda, Md. on Jan. 28, 2020. (Luis M. Alvarez/AP Photo)

“I don’t think he’s fit for office,” Bolton said. “I don’t think he has the competency to carry out the job. There really isn’t any guiding principle that I was able to discern other than what’s good for Donald Trump’s reelection.”

“I think he was so focused on the reelection that longer-term considerations fell by the wayside,” he added. “So if he thought if he could get a photo opportunity with Kim Jong Un at the demilitarized zone in Korea. … There was considerable emphasis on the photo opportunity and the press reaction to it, and little or no focus on what such meetings did for the bargaining position for the United States.”

Bolton made no such allegations while serving as national security adviser and repeatedly praised the president for his actions taken against countries like Russia, China, and North Korea.

Bolton also this week referred to statements made by groups in support of his book, including PEN America and the American Civil Liberties Union.

Summer Lopez of PEN said in a statement that the White House is seemingly manipulating and abusing the pre-publication review process to prevent or delay the publication of a book that could include unflattering information about the president.”

Speaking Thursday morning on “CBS This Morning,” House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who led the charge to impeach Trump, said Bolton’s book “further demonstrates the quid pro quo that president [sic] coercing Ukraine by withholding military assistance.”

The book, “The Room Where It Happened,” is slated for release next week.

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber