United States President Donald Trump virtually pleaded with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping at a G-20 summit for help in his re-election, former US national security adviser John Bolton has claimed in a new book.
The White House has said the forthcoming book by Bolton is "full of classified information" and the Department of Justice has sought a temporary restraining order blocking its release.
Excerpts from the book, The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir, were carried by The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday.
Published by Simon & Schuster, the book is slated to hit the stores on June 23.
Bolton was fired by the president last year.
"This book is full of classified information, which is inexcusable. Former national security adviser John Bolton should know all too well that it's unacceptable to have highly classified information from the government of the United States in a book that will be published. It's unacceptable. It has not gone through the review process, and that's where we currently stand," White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters at a news conference.
In his book, Bolton doubts if the tough stand taken by Trump against China would last beyond the elections.
"Most important of all, will Trump's current China pose last beyond election day? The Trump presidency is not grounded in philosophy, grand strategy or policy. It is grounded in Trump. That is something to think about for those, especially China realists, who believe they know what he will do in a second term," he wrote.
Bolton claims that Trump sought the Chinese president's help in his re-election during a meeting in Osaka on June 29, 2019 on the sidelines of a G-20 summit.
"In their meeting in Osaka on June 29, Xi told Trump that the US-China relationship was the most important in the world. He said that some (unnamed) American political figures were making erroneous judgments by calling for a new cold war with China," Bolton claims.
"Whether Xi meant to finger the Democrats or some of us sitting on the US side of the table, I don't know, but Trump immediately assumed that Xi meant the Democrats. Trump said approvingly that there was great hostility towards China among the Democrats," he wrote.
"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. 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," he said, according to the excerpts of the book.
"Trump then raised the trade negotiations' collapse the previous month, urging China to return to the positions it had retracted and conclude the most exciting, largest deal ever. He proposed that for the remaining USD350 billion of trade imbalances (by Trump's arithmetic), the US would not impose tariffs, but he again returned to importuning Xi to buy as many American farm products as China could," Bolton wrote.
He added that Trump's conversations with Xi reflected not only the incoherence in his trade policy but also the confluence in Trump's mind of his own political interests and the US national interests.
"Trump commingled the personal and the national not just on trade questions but across the whole field of national security. I am hard-pressed to identify any significant Trump decision during my White House tenure that wasn't driven by re-election calculations," Bolton said.
Soon thereafter, former vice-president Joe Biden, who is the Democratic Presidential nominee, slammed Trump.
"Today, we learned from John Bolton, the president's former national security adviser, that President Trump sold out the American people to protect his political future. He reportedly directly asked Xi Jinping, China's leader, to help him get re-elected. He was willing to trade away our most cherished democratic values for the empty promise of a flimsy trade deal that bailed him out of his disastrous tariff war that did so much damage to our farmers, manufacturers, and consumers," Biden said.
"Donald Trump's behaviour disgraces the American presidency. We knew that long before today's revelations. And my message to China's leaders or anyone else who President Trump might invite to interfere: stay out of our democracy. Stay out of our elections. The American people alone will decide the future of this country, and I am confident in the choice they will make," he said.