Donald Trump “pleaded” with Chinese President Xi Jinping to help him win re-election in 2020 by purchasing more US farming products, Mr Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton claims in his new book set to be released next week.
At a one-on-one meeting at a multilateral summit in Japan in the summer of 2019, Mr Xi expressed his dissatisfaction with some critics of China within the US. Mr Trump mistakenly assumed Mr Xi was talking about Democratic lawmakers, Mr Bolton writes in his new book, the Washington Post has reported, and sympathized with Mr Xi’s frustration.
“Trump immediately assumed Xi meant the Democrats. Trump said approvingly that there was great hostility among the Democrats,” Mr Bolton writes. “He then, stunningly, turned the conversation to the coming US presidential election, alluding to China’s economic capability to affect the ongoing campaigns, pleading with Xi to ensure he’d win,” Mr Bolton writes.
“He stressed the importance of farmers, and increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat in the electoral outcome. I would print Trump’s exact words but the government’s republication review process has decided otherwise,” the former national security adviser adds.
The excerpt from Mr Bolton’s new book, The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir, depicts a scene similar to the president’s alleged attempt last summer to coerce Ukraine into helping him win re-election this year by announcing anti-corruption investigations into former vice president and 2020 Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
Mr Bolton’s description of Mr Trump’s and Mr Xi’s conversation does not, however, outline a proposed quid pro quo between Mr Trump and China, whereas the Trump administration’s freeze on vital military assistance to Ukraine as it sought political favors was a central component of Democrats’ impeachment of Mr Trump.
Mr Trump has sought to block Mr Bolton from selling his first-person tell-all in which he describes the president as “erratic” and “stunningly uninformed.” The book’s sale has been held up for months by an extensive vetting process. Its release date was pushed back first from March to May, then to 23 June.
The White House and Attorney General William Barr continue to claim that the book’s publication would reveal classified information, overruling an intelligence official who had previously determined it did not contain classified information and was fit for publication.
The book has already been shipped to distributors’ warehouses, and major news publications have been reporting on many of the book’s revelations. Asked at a press conference earlier this week why he is trying to prevent the book’s publication, Mr Trump said he “wasn’t impressed” with Mr Bolton while he worked for the administration and that the book was “inappropriate.”
“Somebody said he went out and wrote a book. If he wrote a book, I can’t imagine that he can because that’s highly classified information. Even conversations with me, they’re highly classified. I told that to the attorney general before — I will consider every conversation with me as president highly classified,” Mr Trump said.
“So that would mean that if he wrote a book and the book gets out that he’s broken the law. And I would think that he’d have criminal problems. I hope so,” the president said.
Mr Bolton declined to testify before House investigators last year during their impeachment inquiry, frustrating many Democrats who saw his appearance as key to corroborating the accounts of other US national security officials who testified against Mr Trump.