John Bolton, the former National Security Advisor to President Donald Trump, is perhaps seven months late. Had he voluntarily come before the Congressional panels enquiring the impeachment charges against Trump what he had to say then as opposed to what he is saying in his book now would have raised a lot more noise in Washington DC.
Even then it would not have been a game-changer given that loyal Republicans had long come to the conclusion that they were not going to let down their man in the White House come what may. But for Bolton to say now in his book The room where it happened that Democrats indulged in malpractice by not expanding the scope of the articles of impeachment to go beyond Ukraine really takes the cake. Bolton is saying quite late that Democrats failed in their job because they did not expand the investigation of high crimes and a misdemeanor to include China or even Turkey!
For a person who insisted in late 2019 that either a court order or a subpoena from Senate Republicans alone will bring him down to Capitol Hill to testify, Bolton is now saying that the Democrats should have done better. This attitude of Bolton has naturally brought forth a sharp rebuke from critics that he had publicity and book sales in mind, not national interests. The White House and the Justice Department are going to great lengths to stop publication of Bolton’s book on grounds that national security is at stake with intelligence and national security council officials naturally making the point in court documents that Bolton’s book contains classified information that has not been cleared properly. President Trump has denounced the book as “ full of lies” but with a lot of classified material — any discussion with the President has been deemed confidential by Trump!
It is baffling as to why the Trump administration has gone this high-profile route of trying to block sales of a Simon and Schuster publication when almost every media house and journalist in the United States has a copy of the book and major television outlets even having prepared for an interview with Bolton that will be aired on Sunday June 21, 2020 two days ahead of the scheduled release date. In fact, The Wall Street Journal has ran an excerpt of Bolton’s work. If one were to go by all the commentaries written on the subject, it would appear that for the most part, Bolton is only confirming what people already know about Trump and in some instances the former senior administration official only re-confirming what his colleagues had earlier written about and extensively at that.
It is a generally well-known fact that nothing matters to Trump than himself — it has always been about “me” and what is in it for “me”. And in the context of the November 2020 election it has been an obsession to get to the top by whatever means if it requires outright interference of other countries in the elections process. For a President who had been outrightly disdainful of anyone suggesting that Russia meddled in Trump’s favor in 2016, the 45th President apparently had no hesitation in asking China’s Xi Jinping help to win the November election if only Beijing could buy more soybeans and wheat so as to get votes in the farming states.
And it would appear that Trump would have no problem at all in China building Gulag type internment camps for Uighur Muslims at a time when the Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, was making the point that Beijing treatment of Uighur Muslims was a “stain of the century”. According to the State Department, more than one million Uighurs, ethnic Kazaks, Kyrgyz and other Muslim minorities have been detained in internment camps and are subject to inhumane treatment such as physical and sexual abuse, forced labor and death. And the President would go to any length to humor China provided that communist giant helped out in an election year with buying soybean and wheat — American compromises on tariffs, telecommunication, Hong Kong democracy protests and also going soft on commitments to Taiwan. According to Bolton, “I am hard-pressed to identify any significant Trump decision during my White House tenure that wasn’t driven by re-election calculations.”
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If there is one thing that Bolton has confirmed what the Democrats were looking for several months ago, it is in the affirmation of allegations that President Trump had blocked security assistance to Ukraine until such time the country’s leadership agreed to investigate his political rivals, notably Hunter Biden, the son of the former Vice President Joseph Biden who is currently challenging Trump in November for the Presidency.
“He (Trump) said he wasn’t in favor of sending them (Ukraine) anything until all Russia-investigation material related to Clinton and Biden had been turned over,” Bolton has said. Congressman Adam Schiff, one of the leading Impeachment members in the House of Representatives tweeted, “Bolton’s staff were asked to testify before the House to Trump’s abuses and did. They had a lot to lose and showed real courage. When Bolton was asked, he refused and said he’d sue if subpoenaed. Instead, he saved it for a book. Bolton may be an author, but he’s no patriot.”
There are apparently other things in the Bolton book that have been talked about in published or broadcast media accounts that would appear to only reinforce Trump inadequate knowledge of policy, politics or geography. From saying that invading Venezuela would be “cool” to wanting to know if Finland was a part of Russia or telling the President of China that there ought to be no constitutional limits on American Presidential terms and that the amendment should be repealed, Bolton is saying nothing out of the blue that is going to scandalise the American people any more than they already know about their President. And it goes much beyond mixing up names or a confused geography of the world.
“He is a liar… everybody in the White House hated John Bolton,” President Trump said to The Wall Street Journal. And Bolton has different take on the President. Asked in a forthcoming interview with Martha Raddatz of ABC News which is to be aired Sunday “Is the President lying,” Bolton shot back, “Yes, he is, and it is not the first time either.” Bolton’s account of the Trump Presidency may not be about making money off a book but certainly disappointing to those Americans who have long stood up and fought for values. “If John Bolton’s accounts are true, it’s not only morally repugnant, it is a violation of Donald Trump’s scared duty to the American people to protect America’s interests and defend our values,” Biden said in a tweet.
(The writer was a former senior journalist in Washington D.C. covering North America and the United Nations.)