John Bolton, the former national security adviser, told Attorney General William Barr that he was worried President Donald Trump had grown too friendly with the strongman leaders of China and Turkey, according to accounts in an unpublished book Bolton wrote that was obtained by The New York Times.
In the manuscript, Bolton reportedly recalled the attorney general responding that he, too, was concerned about Trump’s affinity for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Chinese President Xi Jinping. Barr noted at the time that there were two Justice Department investigations into companies in the countries, and Bolton wrote that Barr was worried Trump’s fondness for the autocrats would make it seem as if the president was influencing what should be independent probes.
The report Monday is the second bombshell revelation from the unpublished manuscript this week. Bolton also reportedly wrote in the book draft that Trump said he wanted to continue to hold nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine until the country’s leader agreed to announce an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, the Times reported.
The report, if true, counters Trump’s impeachment defense that the aid was held up merely because of concerns about general corruption and that the demand for the Biden investigation was a separate matter, not a quid pro quo.
Trump has long heaped praise on both Erdogan and Xi, two leaders who have been accused of directing authoritarian regimes that crush dissent. The president said in November he was a “big fan” of his Turkish counterpart, just weeks after Erdogan sent troops to invade parts of Syria against U.S. wishes. Trump also cheered Xi’s 2018 decision to end term limits in China.
The cozy relationships have led both leaders to ask Trump for political favors. Xi personally appealed to Trump to lift sanctions on a Chinese telecommunications company, ZTE (he did), and Erdogan asked him to be kinder...