WASHINGTON, June 17 (AFP) - Donald Trump pleaded with China's leader Xi Jinping for help to win re-election in 2020, the US president's former national security advisor John Bolton writes in an explosive new behind-the-scenes book, according to excerpts published on Wednesday (Jun 17).
Bolton alleges in a blistering critique that Trump's focus on winning a second term was the driving principle of his foreign policy - and that top aides routinely disparaged the Republican leader for his ignorance of basic geopolitical facts.
In excerpts published by The Washington Post, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, Bolton also claims Trump repeatedly showed a readiness to overlook Chinese rights abuses - most strikingly telling Xi the mass internment of Uighur Muslims was "exactly the right thing to do".
"I am hard-pressed to identify any significant Trump decision during my White House tenure that wasn't driven by reelection calculations," Bolton writes of the real estate magnate turned president, who was impeached last December for seeking dirt from Ukraine on his 2020 election rival Joe Biden.
In a key meeting with Xi last June, Trump "stunningly turned the conversation to the US presidential election, alluding to China's economic capability to affect the ongoing campaigns, pleading with Xi to ensure he'd win," Bolton claims in his upcoming tell-all.
Bolton writes that Trump stressed the importance of America's farmers and how "increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat" could impact the US electoral outcome.
"I would print Trump's exact words but the government's prepublication review process has decided otherwise," Bolton says, referring to the requirement months ago that he have his manuscript vetted by US agencies.
In a sign of Trump's anger over the memoir, the Justice Department filed an emergency order late Wednesday seeking a halt to publication, the second time in as many days it has tried to block the book.
Arguing Bolton failed to allow completion of the vetting, the department urged the court to take action to "prevent the harm to national security that will result if his manuscript is published to the world."
Bolton said in excerpts that by intervening in cases involving major firms in China and Turkey, Trump appeared to "give personal favors to dictators he liked."
He describes "obstruction of justice as a way of life" in the White House and says he reported his concerns to Attorney General William Barr.