Bolton book to lambast Trump’s foreign policy motivations

John Bolton, the former US national security adviser, will accuse Donald Trump in a new book of tailoring his foreign policy to help win re-election and chastise Congress for limiting its impeachment inquiry to the president’s dealings with Ukraine.

“I am hard-pressed to identify any significant Trump decision during my tenure that wasn’t driven by re-election calculations,” Mr Bolton wrote in The Room Where It Happened, according to an early excerpt of the book.

Foreign policy experts have been waiting to see how tough Mr Bolton, a hardliner who ended his 17-month tenure on bad terms with Mr Trump, will be on the president in the book, to be published June 23.

Mr Trump has said he fired Mr Bolton, who served as his third national security adviser, but the foreign-policy hawk has insisted that he resigned over their differences.

According to the book’s publisher, Simon & Schuster, Mr Bolton will describe Mr Trump’s “scattershot decision-making process” as well as his astonishment that he was working for “a president for whom getting re-elected was the only thing that mattered, even if it meant endangering or weakening the nation.”

The publisher said Mr Bolton would go further to accuse the House of committing “impeachment malpractice by keeping their prosecution focused narrowly on Ukraine when Trump’s Ukraine-like transgressions existed across the full range of his foreign policy”.

The Ukraine-related scandal led to impeachment proceedings against Mr Trump, before he was ultimately acquitted by the US Senate. Mr Bolton said at the time that he would testify in the Senate impeachment trial if he received a subpoena directing him to do so. He never did.

Since leaving the White House, Mr Bolton has criticised Mr Trump over his Iran policy and handling of negotiations with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un. 

Mr Bolton, a former US ambassador to the UN under George W Bush, became Mr Trump’s third out of four national security advisers after the president fired HR McMaster, the three-star general who had been hired instead of Mr Bolton after the ousting of Mike Flynn, a retired general who held the critical post for only 22 days.

He had a close-up view of the Ukraine scandal that unfolded when it emerged that Mr Trump had pressured his Ukrainian counterpart to find dirt on Joe Biden, the now Democratic presidential nominee.

The White House has tried to delay publication of the book, first by forcing Mr Bolton to remove classified information. In the account, Mr Bolton will also accuse the president of obstructing his Twitter account after he left the White House and trying to censor its publication.

“Bolton’s response? Game on,” the publisher wrote, saying it would fully support Mr Bolton’s “First Amendment right to tell the story”.

The Yale-educated lawyer was an unexpected choice to work under Mr Trump. The president had opted against Mr Bolton once before because he did not like his moustache — and while Mr Bolton was a fan of regime change, Mr Trump had campaigned against endless wars.

At one point in their relationship, Mr Trump quipped that, “I actually temper John, which is pretty amazing”.

While Mr Trump first tolerated their differences, he grew angrier when Mr Bolton was absent from the Sunday morning news shows where senior officials tend appear to defend the president. Mr Bolton had also contradicted Mr Trump by saying that a series of North Korean short-range missile tests in 2018 had breached UN sanctions.

Follow Demetri Sevastopulo on Twitter: @dimi

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