In his book, “The Room Where it Happened,” Bolton calls the president “stunningly uninformed.” On Sunday, he said he had to explain concepts over and over again, like why the Korean peninsula was partitioned in 1945 at the end of World War II. Trump was unwilling to do “systematic learning” and hadn’t read much of anything, Bolton said. Intelligence briefings took place once or twice a week; Bolton said they should have been happening daily.
On national security, Bolton said there was no real policy: Trump seemed to think a good personal relationship with China’s Xi Jinping, Russia’s Vladimir Putin and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un was equivalent to a good relationship between the United States and their respective countries.
And Bolton believes these foreign leaders get “a huge laugh” out of their relationship with Trump and believe they can “play him like a fiddle.”
“I don’t think he’s fit for office, I don’t think he has the competence to carry out the job. There really isn’t any guiding principle that I was able to discern other than what’s good for Donald Trump’s reelection,” Bolton told Raddatz.
Though he and Trump didn’t directly talk about reelection, Bolton said it was clear the president focused on photo opportunities, how things would play on Twitter, and how the press would react through a politically calculated lens.
Bolton’s memoir, out Tuesday, also alleges that Trump encouraged China’s construction of camps for its Uighur population, and that he pleaded with Chinese President Xi Jinping to purchase American agricultural products in order to aid his reelection. The book affirms House Democrats’ impeachment evidence that Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate his political rivals in exchange for military assistance.
Bolton reiterated in the ABC interview that the impeachment inquiry was too narrowly focused on Ukraine. However, he had refused to testify during the inquiry last fall after the White House barred him — and other officials — from doing so. The former national security adviser offered to testify in the Senate trial if subpoenaed, but Republican senators blocked calling him as a witness.
“Bolton may be an author, but he’s no patriot,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff tweeted Wednesday. Several critics have accused Bolton of trying to make a profit off of his knowledge after the fact.
In the interview that aired Sunday, Bolton said the House committed impeachment malpractice by rushing the process and said, when challenged by Raddatz, that his testimony wouldn’t have made a difference with the way Democrats were operating.
“They didn’t want to mess up the Democratic presidential nomination. Now, I find that conduct almost as bad and somewhat equivalent to Trump,” Bolton said.
The anticipated memoir was subject to a security review and a legal challenge from the Justice Department, after the Trump administration alleged it contained classified material. Nevertheless, physical and digital copies of the book have been circulating for several days. A PDF turned up on the internet over the weekend, offering a free, pirated edition.