Thunderous Thursday Reads: Bolton From The Blue

Good Morning!!

John Bolton’s book is scheduled for release next Tuesday, but you don’t have to buy it. The best parts are already being published everywhere, despite Trump’s and Barr’s efforts to stop publication.

Bolton was interviewed by ABC’s Martha Raddatz, and the interview will be shown on Sunday in an hour-long special beginning at 9PM. ABC News: Bolton: Trump’s not ‘fit for office,’ doesn’t have ‘competence to carry out the job’

President Donald Trump is not “fit for office” and doesn’t have “the competence to carry out the job,” his former national security adviser John Bolton told ABC News in an exclusive interview.

In an explosive new book about his 17 months at the White House, Bolton characterizes Trump as “stunningly uninformed,” ignorant of basic facts and easily manipulated by foreign adversaries.

But his assessment that Trump is not “fit” to be president is among the most stunning indictments of a sitting president by one of their own top advisers in American history.

“There really isn’t any guiding principle that I was able to discern other than what’s good for Donald Trump’s reelection,” Bolton told ABC News chief global affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz.

“He was so focused on the reelection that longer-term considerations fell by the wayside,” he added.

The New York Times: Bolton Says Trump Impeachment Inquiry Missed Other Troubling Episodes.

John R. Bolton, the former national security adviser, says in his new book that the House in its impeachment inquiry should have investigated President Trump not just for pressuring Ukraine but for a variety of instances when he sought to use trade negotiations and criminal investigations to further his political interests.

Mr. Bolton describes several episodes where the president expressed a willingness to halt criminal investigations “to, in effect, give personal favors to dictators he liked,” citing cases involving major firms in China and Turkey. “The pattern looked like obstruction of justice as a way of life, which we couldn’t accept,” Mr. Bolton writes, saying that he reported his concerns to Attorney General William P. Barr.

Mr. Bolton also adds a striking new accusation by describing how Mr. Trump overtly linked tariff talks with China to his own political fortunes by asking President Xi Jinping to buy American agricultural products to help him win farm states in this year’s election. Mr. Trump, he writes, was “pleading with Xi to ensure he’d win.” Mr. Bolton said that Mr. Trump “stressed the importance of farmers, and increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat in the electoral outcome.”

A bit more:

Mr. Bolton’s volume is the first tell-all memoir by such a high-ranking official who participated in major foreign policy events and has a lifetime of conservative credentials. It is a withering portrait of a president ignorant of even basic facts about the world, susceptible to transparent flattery by authoritarian leaders manipulating him and prone to false statements, foul-mouthed eruptions and snap decisions that aides try to manage or reverse.

Mr. Trump did not seem to know, for example, that Britain was a nuclear power and asked if Finland was a part of Russia, Mr. Bolton writes. The president never tired of assailing allied leaders and came closer to withdrawing the United States from NATO than previously known. He said it would be “cool” to invade Venezuela.

At times, Mr. Trump seemed to almost mimic the authoritarian leaders he appeared to admire. “These people should be executed,” Mr. Trump once said of journalists. “They are scumbags.” When Mr. Xi explained why he was building concentration camps in China, the book says, Mr. Trump “said that Xi should go ahead with building the camps, which he thought was exactly the right thing to do.” He repeatedly badgered Mr. Barr to prosecute former Secretary of State John F. Kerry for talking with Iran in what he insisted was a violation of the Logan Act.

There’s plenty more at the NYT link.

The Guardian: Trump was willing to halt criminal investigations as ‘favor’ to dictators, Bolton book says.

Donald Trump was willing to halt criminal investigations to “give personal favors to dictators he liked”, according to a new book written by his former national security adviser John Bolton….

Bolton alleges that Trump pleaded with China’s President Xi Jinping to help him get re-elected by buying more US agricultural products, according to accounts of his forthcoming memoir.

In his pursuit of a good personal relationship with Xi, Trump is described as brushing aside human rights issues, even providing encouragement to the communist leader to continue to build concentration camps for China’s Muslim Uighur population….

According to excerpts published by the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and the Washington Post, Bolton describes a pattern of corruption in which Trump routinely attempts to use the leverage of US power on other countries to his own personal ends.

“The pattern looked like obstruction of justice as a way of life, which we couldn’t accept,” Bolton writes, adding that he took his concerns to the attorney general, William Barr.

Axios: Bolton’s Revenge.

Highlights from a copy obtained by the N.Y. Times’ Peter Baker:

Impeachment: Bolton says Democrats failed by focusing the probe on Ukraine rather than on other cases involving China and Turkey.

Gossip: Bolton alleges Secretary of State Mike Pompeo slipped him a note calling Trump “full of shit” during a 2018 meeting with Kim Jong-un.

Trump gaffes: Bolton alleges Trump didn’t know the U.K. was a nuclear power and claims Trump asked if Finland was part of Russia.

Journalists: Bolton alleges Trump privately told him reporters deserve prison. “These people should be executed. They are scumbags.”

Bolton’s own words, via an excerpt published in the WSJ:

“Trump then, stunningly, turned the conversation to the coming U.S. 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.”

“At the opening dinner of the Osaka G-20 meeting in June 2019, with only interpreters present, Xi had explained to Trump why he was basically building concentration camps in Xinjiang.

According to our interpreter, Trump said that Xi should go ahead with building the camps, which Trump thought was exactly the right thing to do.”

“One of Trump’s favorite comparisons was to point to the tip of one of his Sharpies and say, ‘This is Taiwan,’ then point to the historic Resolute desk in the Oval Office and say, ‘This is China.’”

CNN has a list of stunning revelations from the book, including this one:

Trump wanted Attorney General Bill Barr to make CNN reporters ‘serve time in jail.’

When news leaked about a hush-hush meeting on Afghanistan at Trump’s Bedminster resort, Trump complained that CNN had reported the summit was taking place, Bolton writes. The President told White House counsel Pat Cipollone to call Attorney General Bill Barr about his desire to “arrest the reporters, force them to serve time in jail, and then demand they disclose their sources.”

More highlights from the book:

The Guardian: John Bolton’s bombshell Trump book: eight of its most stunning claims.

The New York Times: Five Takeaways From John Bolton’s Memoir.

Book Reviews

Jennifer Szalai at The New York Times: In ‘The Room Where It Happened,’ John Bolton Dumps His Notes and Smites His Enemies.

David Ignatius at The Washington Post: John Bolton’s book is full of startling revelations he should have told us sooner.

More Reactions

A powerful commentary by Michael Tomasky at The Daily Beast: John Bolton Shows That All the President’s Men Are Cowards.

The book is 592 pages, and it’s already #1 on Amazon even before it’s out next week. Trump sued to block publication, with Bill Barr inevitably doing his hopeless dirty work there. He will lose. The book will be published. And the news is already here.

Americans will read or at least hear about how Trump has given the law the finger virtually every day of his presidency, didn’t know that England is a nuclear power, thought invading Venezuela would be “cool” and that Finland was part of Russia. And that Trump was, in Mike Pompeo’s eyes, “so full of shit.” And it’s great that we’re learning this now, five months before the American people render their verdict on this fraud.

On the other hand… why are we just learning this now?

Because John Bolton didn’t have the guts to stand up and say these things when it might have mattered more. Or maybe it was less a matter of guts than cash. His agent and publisher surely leaned on him to save it for the book, and well, it’s #1, so in that sense they were right, but what is that sense, exactly?

It’s the sense in which, in a contest between market and polity, the race isn’t even close. The market will win that race every time in today’s America. The president of the United States has been destroying this country, eroding its decent values every single day of his presidency, until matters have finally reached the point that, through his malevolence and stupidity and lack of empathy, he is actually and literally responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans.

Bolton had a chance to speak up before all those people died from Trump’s selfish incompetence. Of course he couldn’t have known that was coming. But with Trump, something bad was coming. It was inevitable. Maybe with a different roll of the dice, war with Iran. The man is a lunatic, completely in over his head in this job, mentally unstable, and an instrument of national grief just waiting to happen every day. It’s been obvious to everyone for years.

Bill Kristol at The Bulwark: John Bolton Tells the Truth.

I’m not particularly surprised by John Bolton’s revelations. (I should make clear that neither of the individuals described above was Bolton.)

But whether or not one is surprised by what Bolton reports, no one should really doubt the truth of it. I have no doubt that Bolton is telling the truth. Not simply because of my two, as it were, generally corroborating sources. But because I’ve known John Bolton a long time, and John Bolton is an honest man. He tells the truth.

Full stop.

John Bolton is neither a liar nor a fantasist. John Bolton may not be the epitome of warmth, humor, or even kindness. But he is honest.

Nor is he the type to get confused. He is a meticulous note-taker. When we read Bolton’s book, we will almost certainly be reading the nearest thing to the truth about the Trump administration that we’re likely to get before historians have a chance to get inside the administration’s archives.

Here is what is relevant for Republican elites going forward: They have known John Bolton for a long time, too. Almost every Republican elected official, every influential Washington conservative, and many Republican donors know John Bolton. And they, too, know he’s honest.

So what do they have to say about a president who blesses Chinese concentration camps, pleads for re-election help from an enemy dictator, and routinely subordinates the national interest to personal and political considerations?

How can they continue to support this president?

I’m sure they will find ways. But those who continue to support Trump need to accept that they’re supporting a man who has done what Bolton says Trump has done. And those who support a Trump second term need to accept that they are supporting four more years in office for a president who has done what Bolton says Trump has done.

And those who continue to keep silent are keeping silent from us, their fellow citizens, their judgment of a president who has done what Bolton says Trump has done.

Enough. Bolton has spoken. Surely there are others who will now dare to disturb the sound of silence.

We’ll have to wait and see if Bolton’s revelations will hurt Trump in the run-up to the election. What do you think? What other stories are on your radar today?


8 Comments on “Thunderous Thursday Reads: Bolton From The Blue”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    This is the book I’m really looking forward to.

    Joe Pompeo at Vanity Fair: “She Feels Very Determined:” How Mary Trump’s Coming Bombshell Was Built.

    Mary L. Trump’s forthcoming memoir about her famous family, Too Much and Never Enough, nonetheless promises to be one of the sizzling must-reads of the summer 2020 election season. The book has something that all the others didn’t: Its author, the 55-year-old eldest grandchild of patriarch Fred Trump Sr., is a member of the dynasty itself, privy to insight and information in a way no outsider could be. She also has a highly unsympathetic view of the moral failings of her uncle, the 45th president of the United States. The subtitle says it all: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man.

    On Monday night, following a Daily Beast article that blew the lid off the tightly held project, thereby pushing up the publication date from mid-August to July 28, Simon & Schuster rushed out the purchasing information to Amazon and Barnes & Noble. The boilerplate promises a 240-page “authoritative portrait of Donald J. Trump and the toxic family that made him,” including “a nightmare of traumas, destructive relationships, and a tragic combination of neglect and abuse,” as well as firsthand recollections of “countless holiday meals and family interactions.”

    Someone who knows Mary Trump and has read the book similarly described it to me as follows: “The punch of the book, the real symbolic thrust, is about how Donald is really an outgrowth of this complex empire that Fred Sr. built—a pretty dark, win-at-all-costs environment. If there’s going to be a big takeaway, it’s about that emotional DNA of the family.” The narrative, this person said, also touches on Mary’s deep bond with her father, Fred Trump Jr., who died of an alcoholism-related heart attack in 1981 at the age of 42.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    More good news from SCOTUS!

  3. dakinikat says:

  4. dakinikat says: