The war of words between the White House and former United States national security adviser John Bolton has escalated with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo branding him a “traitor”.
Titled The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir, the 577-page book paints an unvarnished portrait of President Donald Trump and his administration.
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Bolton writes that Trump “pleaded” with China’s President Xi Jinping during a 2019 summit to help his re-election prospects, and that political calculations drove Trump’s foreign policy.
The book – which the White House is trying desperately to get blocked by court order – also alleges Trump was no match for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Pompeo lashed out at his former colleague on Twitter late on Thursday.
“I’ve not read the book, but from the excerpts I’ve seen published, John Bolton is spreading a number of lies, fully-spun half-truths and outright falsehoods … I was in the room too,” said Pompeo.
It is both sad and dangerous that John Bolton’s final public role is that of a traitor who damaged America by violating his sacred trust with its people. To our friends around the world: you know that President @realDonaldTrump's America is a force for good in the world.
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) June 19, 2020
Trump on Thursday called the book a “compilation of lies and made-up stories” intended to make him look bad. He tweeted that Bolton was just trying to get even for being fired “like the sick puppy he is!”
The two sides are set to face-off on Friday in US District Court in Washington, adding Bolton’s name to a long list of authors who have clashed with the government over publishing sensitive material.
The government says Bolton violated a non-disclosure agreement in which he promised to submit any book he might write to the administration for a pre-publication review to ensure government secrets are not disclosed.
After working for months with the White House to edit, rewrite or remove sensitive information, Bolton’s lawyer says his client received a verbal clearance from classification expert Ellen Knight at the National Security Council.
But he never got a formal clearance letter, and the Trump administration contends the book still contains sensitive material.
On the road again
The mounting drama around the Republican president’s already rocky re-election bid raised the stakes for his rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday – the first he will have held since the US coronavirus lockdown began, but mired in controversy over whether it is safe amid the pandemic.
Trump’s once supremely self-confident march toward a second term was already in a hole amid criticism over his responses to the coronavirus and the nationwide anti-racism protests.
With his TV show background and natural populist flair, Trump is far happier in front of cheering crowds than in the formal settings of the White House.
He is “very excited to get back on the road”, his adviser Kellyanne Conway said.
But questions have been raised about the safety of the Tulsa rally with a mass crowd indoors and the threat of COVID-19.
Temperature checks will be conducted and masks handed out, but people will not be required to wear them.
Trump admitted in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that some attendees may get infected, but added “it’s a very small percentage”.
The Tulsa rally suffered a setback when it was scheduled originally for Friday, June 19, the “Juneteenth” anniversary of the end of slavery in the US.
Amid soaring racial tensions and anger from civil rights groups at his handling of the police violence protests, that struck the wrong tone and Trump was forced to shift the rally to Saturday.
“Nobody had ever heard of it,” he claimed in the WSJ interview published on Thursday. “I did something good: I made Juneteenth very famous.”
In fact, the White House annually puts out a statement commemorating the occasion, which is also marked by nearly all US states.