The book confirms House testimony that Mr. Bolton was wary all along of the president’s actions with regard to Ukraine and provides firsthand evidence of his own that Mr. Trump explicitly linked the security aid to investigations involving Mr. Biden and Hillary Clinton. On Aug. 20, Mr. Bolton writes, Mr. Trump “said he wasn’t in favor of sending them anything until all the Russia-investigation materials related to Clinton and Biden had been turned over.” Mr. Bolton writes that he, Mr. Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper tried eight to 10 times to get Mr. Trump to release the aid.
Mr. Bolton, however, had nothing but scorn for the House Democrats who impeached Mr. Trump, saying they committed “impeachment malpractice” by limiting their inquiry to the Ukraine matter and moving too quickly for their own political reasons. Instead, he said they should have also looked at how Mr. Trump was willing to intervene in investigations into companies like Turkey’s Halkbank to curry favor with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey or China’s ZTE to favor Mr. Xi.
Mr. Trump married politics with policy during a meeting with Mr. Xi on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit meeting in Osaka, Japan, last summer, according to the book. Mr. Xi told Mr. Trump that unnamed political figures in the United States were trying to spark a new cold war with China.
“Trump immediately assumed Xi meant the Democrats,” Mr. Bolton writes. “Trump said approvingly that there was great hostility among the Democrats. 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.” Mr. Bolton says he would have printed Mr. Trump’s exact words, “but the government’s prepublication review process has decided otherwise.”
Mr. Bolton does not say these are necessarily impeachable offenses and adds that he does not know everything that happened with regard to all of these episodes, but he reported them to Mr. Barr and Pat A. Cipollone, the White House counsel. They should have been investigated by the House, he said, and at the very least suggested abuses of a president’s duty to put the nation’s interests ahead of his own.
“A president may not misuse the national government’s legitimate powers by defining his own personal interest as synonymous with the national interest, or by inventing pretexts to mask the pursuit of personal interest under the guise of national interest,” Mr. Bolton writes. “Had the House not focused solely on the Ukraine aspects of Trump’s confusion of his personal interests,” he adds, then “there might have been a greater chance to persuade others that ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ had been perpetrated.”