Trump lashes out at Bolton as memoir excerpts offer scathing account of White House

President Trump on Wednesday sharply criticized John Bolton as “washed up” and a “liar” after media outlets published portions of the former national security adviser’s memoir, which paints a scathing picture of the White House.

“He broke the law,” Trump said of Bolton when asked about the revelations from the memoir in an interview with Fox News’s Sean Hannity, referring to the lawsuit filed by the Justice Department challenging the publication of Bolton’s book.

“He was a washed-up guy. I gave him a chance. He couldn’t get Senate confirmed so I gave him a non-Senate confirmed position where I could just put him there, see how he worked,” the president said.

Trump claimed he “wasn’t very enamored” with Bolton, citing Bolton’s support for the 2003 Iraq War.

“He was one of the big guns for ‘Let’s go into Iraq’ and that didn’t work out too well and I was against that a long time ago,” Trump said.

Trump in the Hannity interview did not explicitly deny any specific allegations in Bolton’s book, but instead broadly defended his administration’s policies, saying “nobody has been tougher on Russia or China than I have.”

Trump separately called Bolton a “liar” in an interview with The Wall Street Journal published Wednesday, and denied Bolton’s claim that he signaled his support for Chinese President Xi Jinping’s use of camps targeting Uighur Muslims in China’s Xinjiang province.

And in a pair of tweets sent after midnight, Trump asserted that Bolton’s book was “made up of lies & fake stories” and dismissed Bolton as “incompetent” and a “disgruntled boring fool who only wanted to go to war.”

“Never had a clue, was ostracized & happily dumped,” the president wrote. “What a dope!”

Trump’s rebuke of his former national security adviser does not come as a surprise, given that the president regularly lashes out at former aides who have publicly criticized him, including more recently his former Defense Secretary James Mattis.

Bolton’s memoir, due to be released to the public on June 23, alleges that Trump solicited Xi’s help in winning reelection by asking him during a Group of 20 summit last June to purchase U.S. agricultural products in an effort to bolster the president’s support among farmers. Bolton, who served as national security adviser for 17 months, also describes Trump’s style and leadership in negative terms, characterizing the president as “stunningly uninformed.”

Appearing before Congress on Wednesday, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer denied Bolton’s claim that Trump sought assistance from China in winning the 2020 election, calling it “absolutely untrue.” Trump praised Lighthizer for his statement during the interview on Fox.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has sued to prevent the release of Bolton’s memoir, “The Room Where it Happened,” alleging it contains classified information and that the former Trump adviser did not complete the prepublication review process by which the administration clears books for release. The DOJ on Wednesday evening sought an emergency restraining order to block the memoir’s release.

“He broke the law, very simple. As much as it’s going to be broken. This is highly classified,” Trump claimed in the interview with Hannity on Wednesday evening. “It’s highly classified information and he did not have approval.” 

Bolton’s attorney has denied that the memoir contains classified material and alleges that the White House has used national security as a pretext to suppress the unflattering book.

Tags Bolton book Bolton memoir Donald Trump James Mattis John Bolton Robert Lighthizer Sean Hannity The Room Where It Happened

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