Trump tries to block Bolton book as bits revealed

Donald Trump has complained about what he calls threats to his free speech on social media to the extent of signing an executive order, but that has been seen as a threat to free speech itself – Donald Trump’s attacks on social media threaten the free speech rights of all Americans:

…his feud with Twitter is another example of the ways in which the president has routinely distorted the principles of the First Amendment in order to undermine the very freedoms he claims to be championing – as well as American democracy more broadly.

Trump is also not keen on free speech for his former national security adviser John Bolton, who is due to launch a book next week about his White House experiences. Trump obviously doesn’t think he will get much praise in the book.

Trump administration seeks emergency order to block Bolton’s memoir

The Trump administration has made an aggressive last-ditch attempt to block the release of John Bolton’s bombshell book, in which the former national security adviser writes that the US president offered favors to dictators and asked China to help him with his 2020 re-election.

On Wednesday night, the justice department sought an emergency order from a judge to block Bolton’s memoir, after explosive excerpts were printed by various news organizations.

This latest move comes after the administration filed a civil suit against Bolton on Tuesday. The emergency temporary restraining order filed Wednesday, which seeks to stop the release of his book on 23 June, is unlikely to succeed, legal experts said, especially since copies had already been distributed to booksellers and journalists.

In a statement, Bolton’s publisher Simon & Schuster called the restraining order “a frivolous, politically motivated exercise in futility. Hundreds of thousands of copies have already been distributed around the country and the world. The injunction as requested by the government would accomplish nothing.’’

Details from the book have already been published – John Bolton’s bombshell Trump book: eight of its most stunning claims

Donald Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton has made a series of explosive claims about the US president in his new book The Room Where It Happened, according to numerous news reports and an excerpt.

1. Trump pleaded with China to help win the 2020 election

According to the excerpt of Bolton’s book published by the Wall Street Journal, Trump asked China to use its economic power to help him win a second election.

In one instance, Trump and President Xi Jinping were discussing hostility to China in the US. “Trump then, stunningly, turned the conversation to the coming US presidential election, alluding to China’s economic capability and pleading with Xi to ensure he’d win,” 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 prepublication review process has decided otherwise.”

2. Trump suggested he was open to serving more than two terms

…published in the Wall Street Journal, Trump also seems to support Xi’s idea of eliminating presidential term limits. “Xi said he wanted to work with Trump for six more years, and Trump replied that people were saying that the two-term constitutional limit on presidents should be repealed for him. Xi said the US had too many elections, because he didn’t want to switch away from Trump, who nodded approvingly.”

The first does seem like a big deal, the second is quite ho-hum.

3. Trump offered favors to dictators

One incident published in the Washington Post includes a 2018 discussion with the Turkish president, Recep Erdoğan. Bolton says Erdoğan gave Trump a memo claiming that a Turkish firm under investigation in the US was innocent. “Trump then told Erdoğan he would take care of things, explaining that the southern district prosecutors were not his people, but were Obama people, a problem that would be fixed when they were replaced by his people.”

4. Trump praised Xi for China’s internment camps

According to Bolton, Trump was also approving when Xi defended China’s internment of Uighur Muslims in detention camps. “According to our interpreter,” Bolton writes, “Trump said that Xi should go ahead with building the camps, which Trump thought was exactly the right thing to do.”

5. Trump defended Saudi Arabia to distract from a story about Ivanka

Trump made headlines in November 2018 when he released a bizarre statement defending the Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman over the killing of Jamal Khashoggi. It included lines such as “The world is a very dangerous place!” and “maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!”

According to Bolton’s book, making headlines was the point. A story about his daughter Ivanka using her personal email for government business was also in the news at the time. After waging war on Hilary Clinton during the 2016 campaign for doing the same thing, Trump need a distraction.

“This will divert from Ivanka,” Trump reportedly said. “If I read the statement in person, that will take over the Ivanka thing.”

Again not a great surprise, one of Trump’s primary strategies seems to be media/social media diversions.

6. Trump’s top staff mocked him behind his back

From what has been reported, it sounds like Bolton’s book provides one of the clearest insights into the despair of Trump’s top officials behind the scenes.

In one example given by the New York Times, Bolton claims he received a note from the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, after Trump’s 2018 meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, simply saying, “He is so full of shit.” On top of this, Pompeo also allegedly said a month later that Trump’s diplomatic efforts with North Korea had “zero probability of success”.

Criticism and lack of respect has already been revealed, this is hardly a revelation. “He is so full of shit” won’t shock many people who seem Trump just like that. Even supporters and defenders of grump agree that he is full of shit (‘but gets things done’, which to an extent is correct).

7. Trump thought Finland was part of Russia

Bolton’s book reportedly details some giant holes in Trump’s knowledge. In one instance, Bolton says Trump didn’t seem to know basic knowledge about the UK, asking its former prime minister Theresa May: “Oh, are you a nuclear power?”. On top of this, he also alleges that Trump once asked if Finland was part of Russia, and repeatedly mixed up the current and former presidents of Afghanistan.

Trump’s ignorance of international basics is also not a surprise.

8. Trump thought it would be ‘cool’ to invade Venezuela

According to the Washington Post, Bolton claims Trump said invading Venezuela would be “cool”, and that the country was “really part of the United States”.

More unsurprising ignorance plus a bit of normal idle bluster.

There is not much here that will change many minds about Trump’s behaviour and competence. Of these only the China could be a problem.

New York Times: China Slams Trump Over Uighur Law Amid Bolton Accusations

China lashed out at the United States on Thursday after President Trump signed into law a bill that would allow him to impose sanctions on Chinese officials involved in the mass incarceration of more than one million Uighurs and members of other largely Muslim minorities in the western region of Xinjiang.

The rebuke came after China’s top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, held an unusual meeting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Hawaii that underscored the depth of discord between the two countries.

China’s incarceration of members of minority groups in Xinjiang has become another increasingly contentious, if complicated, issue between the two countries. New accusations by John Bolton, Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, have muddied the issue even further.

New York Times Five takeaways from John Bolton’s book (paywall)

Expect plenty of attempted diversion from Trump when the book hits the bookshelves. He is already doing his usual attacking:

And retweeting this:

Dumping on the messenger is as unsurprising as the book revelations. It’s hard to be shocked by trump any more, but his attacks also look like same old.

Bolton has been criticised for staying silent through the impeachment trial of Trump, holding back information until his book launch.

Trump attempted to use military aid to pressure Ukraine on political investigations, Bolton says

For months, as the nation was convulsed by the impeachment of President Donald Trump, his critics held out hope that the congressional proceedings would unearth a high-level witness with first-person testimony about Trump’s efforts to use his office to try to pressure Ukraine to launch investigations that could bolster him politically.

Now, more than four months after Trump was acquitted by a Republican-led Senate, former Trump national security adviser John Bolton has emerged with just such an account in his new book, “The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir.”

In it, Bolton asserts that the delay in releasing $400 million in security assistance for Ukraine last summer was an attempt by the president to get the foreign country to provide damaging material about former secretary of state Hillary Clinton and former vice president Joe Biden.

The former national security adviser cites personal conversations in which he describes a quid pro quo that Trump long denied, including an August meeting in which Bolton alleges that Trump made the bargain explicit.

“He said he wasn’t in favor of sending them anything until all Russia-investigation material related to Clinton and Biden had been turned over,” Bolton writes.

Bolton seems as self-interested as Trump.

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15 Comments

  1. Gezza

     /  19th June 2020

    Trump picks the advisers he deserves. Which is why the White House has a revolving door for them & why so many of them try to make money off their time working with the idiot.

    Reply
    • You’ve nailed it. Trump picks the advisers he deserves, and they get the boss they deserve. They’re all liars and con artists.

      All served up with a cartload of distain for their duty to the American people to protect their interests.

      Trump’s asked Russia for help. He’s asked Ukraine. He’s asked China. He approves of China’s construction of concentration camps for more than a million Uighurs. He wants to execute journalists who disagree with him. There’s no bottom to him.

      And all the Republican Senators knew what Bolton knew. Yet only Romney had the courage to do the right thing.

      Reply
  2. One interesting wrinkle for Trump’s administration is that in order to claim elements of Bolton’s book are classified, Trump must admit the information in question is true.

    There’s no such thing as a classified lie.

    Reply
    • Patzcuaro

       /  19th June 2020

      Touché

      Reply
    • Duker

       /  19th June 2020

      Bolton went through the vetting process and there is a few places where his details have been pared down.
      What Trumps court case is about isnt national security , its a ordinary civil claim based on Bolton signing a ‘civil non disclosure’ agreement’ when he joined the White House.

      Reply
  3. This all comes at the same time as the US government is making extraordinary efforts to prevent Mike Flynn from being punished for secretly working for a frenemy country while getting classified briefings, and calling up the country that had just attacked the US in 2016 and discussing how Russia and the Trump Administration had mutual interests in undermining Obama’s policies.

    The same DOJ that is magnifying Bolton’s risk for an espionage prosecution found nothing inappropriate in Flynn calling up the country that had just attacked the US and teaming with that hostile country against the current government of the United States.

    Barr even claimed Flynn’s call was “laudable,” while lying that it didn’t conflict with Obama’s policies.

    To be honest, I won’t weep if Bolton is prosecuted. He would have had more legal protection if he had testified during the impeachment inquiry, which would have done more good for the country. It would be an abuse, but such abuse has been directed against far more vulnerable and admirable people.

    But the comparison of the claims being made about Bolton with the treatment given to Flynn — Flynn actively sold out his country, whereas Bolton sold out through inaction — only serves to emphasize how Trump subjects what traditionally gets called national security to loyalty.

    The greatest “national security” sin a Trump Administration official can commit is disloyalty to Donald Trump.

    Reply
    • Pink David

       /  19th June 2020

      “This all comes at the same time as the US government is making extraordinary efforts to prevent Mike Flynn from being punished for secretly working for a frenemy country while getting classified briefings, and calling up the country that had just attacked the US in 2016 and discussing how Russia and the Trump Administration had mutual interests in undermining Obama’s policies.”

      Russians! RUSSIANS!

      You have not a scrap of evidence for this, and everyone agrees that. The persecution of Flynn is entirely political.

      “Flynn actively sold out his country”

      Interesting claim. You would think you would have some evidence for this.

      Reply
      • Duker

         /  19th June 2020

        Flynn pleaded guilty ..twice with his own iteration of the facts while he was under oath.
        If there is no evidence , then his lawyers would tell him you are ruining your future by pleading guilty…hes a smart cookie you dont get to be Military head of INTELLIGENCE by being a doofus.

        prisons are full of people who say they were framed /railroaded/ too dumb into pleading guilty. But not at this level.
        he just knew that Barr would overturn the governments case, without cause, but the Judge isnt buying it.

        Reply
      • Give it a rest Pink David.

        Flynn worked as an unregistered agent for Turkey during the Trump campaign, and was paid US$530,000 by Dutch-based company Inovo BV, which has deep ties to the Turkish government.

        Flynn lied about that relationship and concealed his arrangement with the Turkish government.

        Flynn also pleaded guilty in 2017 and again in 2018 to lying to FBI agents about his conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the United States.

        Reply
  4. David

     /  19th June 2020

    Trump says bad stuff, Trump is trying to get re elected, Trump is exactly how he is on twitter…yawn we know what he is like he is the most transparent President of all time. Sometimes he is appalling and sometimes he is great and you could probably say the same about Ardern, Clarket et al.
    What I dislike is Bolton gets a million or two for disclosing stuff he probably shouldnt as a NSA former director and too many people have exited the White House for a large payday. Its not because its Trump its anybody in power and stops the proper functioning of every administration. If there is a scandal then sure but all this diatribe is is a disgruntled fired hawk who is gossiping after having a very sensitive role he couldnt even get confirmed for.

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  19th June 2020

      His book was vetted in the normal manner and some details removed .
      Saying Trump is [various terms meaning low intelligence] isnt a state secret

      This describes the details of The legal action but also mentions it was vetted and lots of material removed.

      “Twenty-four days later, on Jan. 23 of this year, Knight informed Cooper that “based on a preliminary review, the manuscript appears to contain significant amounts of classified information,” and that the “manuscript may not be published or otherwise disclosed without the deletion of this classified information.” Thus began a three-month-long, “iterative” process between Bolton and Knight in which they negotiated many changes to the manuscript in order to ensure that, in Knight’s view, it wouldn’t contain any classified information. Bolton and Knight met for numerous hours, and had many written exchanges, as described in paragraphs 41-45 of the complaint.

      Finally, as the government acknowledges, on April 27, Knight “had completed her review and was of the judgment that the manuscript draft did not contain classified information.” According to a letter from Cooper to National Security Council Legal Adviser John Eisenberg, Knight told Bolton on that day that she had made her final edit.

      https://www.lawfareblog.com/assessing-governments-lawsuit-against-john-bolton

      Likely sales will now go through the roof for an otherwise boring book only policy wonks would love. For Trump its just another train wreck on his path to losing the election

      Reply
  5. duperez

     /  19th June 2020

    Trump says Bolton’s revealing state secrets and isn’t allowed to do that.

    Trump says Bolton just made the stuff up.

    Is Bolton’s made up stuff state secrets?

    Is it a state secret that that is the normal setting for the way things happen there? 🙃

    Reply
  6. I’m not sure how Trump’s lawyers think they can block the release of Bolton’s book. The horse has already bolted and their filings do nothing to prevent the book from coming out.

    But the main focus of their filings is on Bolton’s disclosure of so-called “classified information” to the NY Times in January this year. And what the filings do is lay out a record to meet the elements of an espionage charge.

    The US government can now point to the publication of the book and prove that Bolton:
    1. had an obligation to keep these things secret
    2. knew the damage that not doing so could cause, and
    3. nevertheless published the information

    I don’t know whether they would proceed to prosecute Bolton, but the Trump filings make it a lot easier to do so. In other words, the White House has done the groundwork to be able to claim that John Bolton is no different to Edward Snowden.

    But Trump has already said that what WAS disclosed wasn’t true.

    So how does all of this end?

    Reply

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