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Explained: Why Donald Trump wants to block former NSA John Bolton’s book

John Bolton’s book — The Room Where It Happened — recounts a number of episodes that damagingly portray Donald Trump.

By: Explained Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: June 23, 2020 9:28:12 am
John Bolton, John Bolton new book, Trump on John Bolton book, John Bolton book PDF Former National Security Advisor John Bolton and US President Donald Trump. (Reuters Photo/File)

With the November 2020 election fast approaching, US President Donald Trump has found himself at odds with his former National Security Advisor John Bolton — an ally-turned-foe whose latest book paints a less than charitable picture of the Trump presidency.

The Trump administration, which tried to stop the book from being published, received a setback on Saturday when a federal court turned down its request, saying it was too late to implement such an order.

The preview of Bolton’s book — which releases June 23 — has already been shared with several media organisations, who have widely reported its main parts that show Trump in a bad light.

On June 18, Trump had called Bolton a “disgruntled boring fool who only wanted to go to war. Never had a clue, was ostracized & happily dumped. What a dope!”

Who is John Bolton?

A lifelong conservative, John Bolton has served in the administrations of three US Presidents from the Republican party — Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.

Known for his hawkish approach to America’s foreign policy, Bolton has strongly defended the 2003 US invasion of Iraq and has been critical of the United Nations. In recent years, he has also spoken in favour of bombing Iran and of launching a preemptive strike against North Korea. Bolton has also called Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election a “true act of war”.

What does his book say about Trump?

Bolton’s book — The Room Where It Happened — recounts a number of episodes that damagingly portray Trump.

In a 2019 meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping during the G20 summit in Japan, Trump “stunningly, turned the conversation to the coming US presidential election [in 2020], alluding to China’s economic capability and pleading with Xi to ensure he’d win,” Bolton writes.

John Bolton, John Bolton new book, Trump on John Bolton book, John Bolton book PDF A copy of “The Room Where It Happened,” by former national security adviser John Bolton, is photographed at the White House, Thursday, June 18, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo)

During the 2016 election, Trump was able to win the presidency largely due to crucial support from Midwest states, where agriculture is a major industry.

According to Bolton, Trump also agreed with China’s highly criticised policy of bundling Uighur Muslims in internment camps– where they are allegedly schooled into giving up their identity, and assimilate better in the Communist country dominated by the Han Chinese.

Apart from the Chinese leader, Bolton also accuses Trump of cosying up to other authoritarian leaders, and giving “personal favours to dictators he liked”. In 2018, the US President offered to help Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan over an ongoing investigation into a Turkish company, Bolton has alleged.


Bolton has also written disparagingly about Trump’s knowledge of facts, and of his fitness for the top job. As per Bolton, Trump did not know that the UK was a nuclear power, and thought that Finland was “kind of a satellite of Russia”. The book also says that Trump thought invading Venezuela would be “cool”, and that the Latin American country was “really part of the United States”.

What did Trump do to block its release?

In the past week, the US Justice Department went to court to stop the book’s release, and asked for its copies to be retrieved. Trump officials said that Bolton had divulged classified information, and had failed to obtain a pre-publication clearance.

Bolton’s lawyers countered by saying that he had addressed the Trump administration’s concerns about classified information for several months, and was assured by a White House official in late April that the manuscript no longer included such text.

While the court on Saturday allowed Bolton’s book to be released, it did admonish him for having “gambled with the national security of the United States”. The ruling said that Bolton “exposed his country to harm and himself to civil (and potentially criminal) liability. But these facts do not control the motion before the Court. The government has failed to establish that an injunction will prevent irreparable harm.”

Trump tweeted on Monday, “I gave John Bolton, who was incapable of being Senate-confirmed because he was considered a wacko, and was not liked, a chance. I always like hearing differing points of view. He turned out to be grossly incompetent, and a liar. See judge’s opinion. CLASSIFIED INFORMATION!!!”

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First published on: 22-06-2020 at 09:22:50 pm
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