Donald Trump has accused John Bolton of breaking the law after his former adviser released a book detailing how the president “pleaded” with Chinese leader Xi Jinping to help his re-election prospects
Mr Trump was asked about the book on Fox News, and replied: “He broke the law. Very simple. I mean, as much as it’s going to be broken.
“It’s highly classified information, and he did not have approval.”
The president followed up with a tweet early on Thursday that said the book “is made up of lies & fake stories” by a “disgruntled boring fool who only wanted to go to war”.
The book accuses Mr Trump of being driven by political calculations when making national security decisions.
The White House has worked furiously to block it, asking a federal court for an emergency temporary restraining order against its release.
Mr Bolton’s allegations that the president solicited Chinese help during a 2019 summit carried echoes of Mr Trump’s attempt to get political help from Ukraine, which led to his impeachment.
“I am hard-pressed to identify any significant Trump decision during my tenure that wasn’t driven by re-election calculations,” Mr Bolton wrote.
The 577-page book paints an unvarnished portrait of Mr Trump and his administration, amounting to the most vivid, first-person account yet of how he conducts himself in office.
Several other former officials have written books, but most have been flattering about the president. Other ex-officials have indicated they were saving their accounts of their time working for him until after he leaves office in order to speak more candidly.
Mr Bolton, who was Mr Trump’s national security adviser for a 17-month period, said his attempt to shift the June 2019 conversation with Mr Xi to the US election was among innumerable conversations that he found concerning.
He added that Congress should have expanded the scope of its impeachment inquiry to these other incidents.
Deeply critical of the president and much of his senior team, he wrote that because staff had served him so poorly, Mr Trump “saw conspiracies behind rocks, and remained stunningly uninformed on how to run the White House, let alone the huge federal government”.
He added that while he was at the White House, the president typically had only two intelligence briefings a week “and in most of those, he spoke at greater length than the briefers, often on matters completely unrelated to the subjects at hand”.
The book includes embarrassing claims that Mr Trump thought Finland was part of Russia, did not know the UK was a nuclear power and called reporters “scumbags” who should be “executed”.
The book, titled The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir, is set to be released on Tuesday by Simon & Schuster, but has been the subject of a lengthy battle between Mr Bolton and the White House.
The Justice Department sued on Tuesday in an effort to delay publication, claiming it still contained highly classified information and that a required review by the National Security Council had not been concluded.
According to the filing, a career official determined no classified material remained in April, but national security adviser Robert O’Brien initiated a secondary review that deemed additional information to be classified.
The White House’s contention that so much of the book was classified appeared to be a tacit admission that many of Mr Bolton’s allegations were accurate — as inaccurate information could not be classified.