Bolton book: Trump wanted Xi to help him win re-election

There’s juicy stuff in the Bolton book even if his mercenary lust for money came before putting Trump in the vise during the Impeachment. It seems less revelatory as it might simply confirm how incompetent and dangerous Trump remains.

“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 writes. “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.”

At the same meeting, Xi also defended China’s construction of camps housing up to 1 million Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang — and Trump signaled his approval. “According to our interpreter,” Bolton writes, “Trump said that Xi should go ahead with building the camps, which Trump thought was exactly the right thing to do.”

The episode described by Bolton in his book, “The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir,” bears striking similarities to the actions that resulted in Trump’s impeachment after he sought to pressure the Ukrainian president to help dig up dirt on Democratic rival Joe Biden in exchange for military assistance. The China allegation also comes amid ongoing warnings from U.S. intelligence agencies about foreign election interference in November, as Russia did to favor Trump in 2016.

Bolton’s 592-page memoir, obtained by The Washington Post, is the most substantive, critical dissection of the president from an administration insider so far, coming from a conservative who has worked in Republican administrations for decades and is a longtime contributor to Fox News. It portrays Trump as an “erratic” and “stunningly uninformed” commander in chief, and lays out a long series of jarring and troubling encounters between the president, his top advisers and foreign leaders.

www.washingtonpost.com/…

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Like most of Trump’s antics, too little too late.

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But this is not unusual language for a prepub review case; it's just a little bit more detailed, since they're filing before he published. Here it is from the No Easy Day case, & judges routinely ignore it. I've never seen a judge actually issue such an order.

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In short, this is not an attempt to stop publication, at least not more than a token effort. Regardless of what Trump said they were going to do, DOJ clearly took a more pragmatic approach.

2) Prepub review cases, like most cases brought by the govt, are generally brought by …

the relevant US Attorney for the district in concert with the Federal Programs Branch of the Civil Division. Fed Programs runs the show though. Fed Programs is sort of like the DOJ Special Forces for civil litigation, & they only take cases that they deem “of special importance.”
This normally means that the case law will have widespread effect or that it will implicate some significant national interest. As you might imagine, a lot of national security cases go through Fed Programs, although there are no established rules for what they do or don't take.
I mention this for one purpose only. The fact that there are a bunch of names on the complaint means absolutely nothing. That's how DOJ lawyers sign documents. It doesn't even matter that Daniel Van Horn is listed. He's the Chief of the Civil Division at the US Attorney's …

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Office for DC. He's not actually doing anything on the case. He's there simply to check the box that preserves the illusion that the US Attorney's office is prosecuting the case. There is no active higher level DOJ involvement in this case than in any other case. At least not …
formally. The Fed Programs lawyer Michael Gerardi is the only lawyer actively working this case, just like every other case of this nature.

3) Not only will this have no effect on the publication of the book, but Bolton isn't even required to RESPOND to it for 30 days, & …

then only from the day he was served. And not only has he not been served yet, but the Clerk hasn't even issued a summons yet for them to serve him. DOJ has MONTHS to serve him, & until you see a Proof of Service in the docket, the case isn't really even a case.
4) We finally get to see Bolton's NDAs, & there is literally nothing special. They are the standard NDAs required for everyone else with his level of access. They include the standard 30-day language which no court has ever held against the govt. courtlistener.com/recap/gov.usco…
This is important. Bolton did not negotiate a special agreement with the govt. He signed a standard agreement. The face of the agreement says that govt has 30 days to “make a response,” not “make a FINAL response.” He submitted his manuscript on 12/30 & they responded on 1/23.
That is all that was required. The NSC responded that he was not approved to publish the material. That satisfies their part of the agreement. This is why this language never matters to a court. Moreover, it'd be impractical to expect this iterative process to happen in 30 days.
5) There's nothing in his employment separation paperwork either. courtlistener.com/recap/gov.usco…
6) By filing this lawsuit, DOJ did something nasty. Something I'm sure Trump would've gotten behind.

They used his home address.

Yes, it's not a total secret, & you might've been able to piece it together from old FEC filings etc., but it was definitely not easily publicly …

available. Until today. I'm certain this factored into their calculations.

7) It is telling that the language of the correspondence changed from “classified information” to “national security information” around March. Many agencies believe that they can redact unclassified …

information during prepub review if it's “bad for the govt,” & according to the complaint, the NSC doesn't even have any established rules for their prepub review process. This has never been successfully litigated one way or the other, but my money's on them playing games here.
8) This is very interesting. According to this, some of the allegedly classified information was classified BY BOLTON. If this is true, Bolton will have to effectively argue one of two things. First, he could argue that he overclassified it, which would probably be true & yet …

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not help him in the slightest. He could also try to argue that as the person who classified it, he could declassify it. This is not the case. If he were still National Security Advisor, then sure, he'd have that authority. But he lost declassification authority when he left govt.

I dealt with this issue here when I talked about Comey's ability to say something wasn't classified after he left FBI.

In the final analysis, this is a straight up prepub review case with maybe a few interesting wrinkles but no clear path forward for Bolton to make any money from the book, either through royalties or subsequent things like speaking engagements. The court is not going to stop …
publication of the book, & anyone who wants to read it will be able to read it, with one big exception.

If you have a clearance, reading it would now jeopardize your clearance.

And that's likely part of the play here. They can't stop publication, but they can punish him, …

& they can set the stage for going after anyone disloyal enough to read his book.

Here endeth the lesson.

@jdawsey1 @debriechmann

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