WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump asked China's Xi Jinping during a 2019 summit meeting to help his reelection prospects by purchasing more American farm products, according to a new book by former Trump national security adviser John Bolton that is highly critical of the president.
Bolton called Trump's effort to shift the June 2019 conversation to the U.S. election a stunning move, and wrote that it was among innumerable conversations that "formed a pattern of fundamentally unacceptable behavior that eroded the very legitimacy of the presidency."
Overall, Bolton wrote, because staff had served him so poorly, Trump "saw conspiracies behind rocks, and remained stunningly uninformed on how to run the White House, let alone the huge federal government."
As for the meeting with the Chinese president in Osaka, Japan, Bolton wrote that Trump told Xi that Democrats were hostile to China.
"He then, stunningly, turned the conversation to the coming U.S. presidential election, alluding to China's economic capability to affect the ongoing campaigns, pleading with Xi to ensure he'd win," Bolton said. "He stressed the importance of farmers, and increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat in the electoral outcome."
The Associated Press obtained an advance copy of the book, "The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir," which is set to be released next week by Simon & Schuster. The Trump administration has sued to try to delay publication, saying it contains classified information.
In the book, Bolton describes every Trump decision as being guided by concerns for his own reelection, a claim that evokes the scandal that sparked Trump's impeachment last year. Trump's decision to withhold military assistance to Ukraine until it agreed to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, then a 2020 front-runner and now the presumptive Democratic nominee, led the House to charge Trump was abusing his power. The aid was ultimately released once the hold-up became public. The GOP-controlled Senate ultimately acquitted the president on that count and a count of obstructing Congress' investigation of the incident.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Bolton's book.