Putin 'had to be laughing uproariously' at Trump after Helsinki summit, Bolton says in explosive book

'This was hardly the way to do relations with Russia,' former national security adviser claims

John T. Bennett
Washington Bureau Chief
Wednesday 17 June 2020 21:53
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A former top aide to Donald Trump concluded Russian President Vladimir Putin likely was "laughing" at the US president following a 2018 summit in Helsinki.

John Bolton, Mr Trump's former national security adviser, makes the claim in a book due out next week – unless a federal judge blocks it after the Trump administration filed a lawsuit claiming it is full of classified information.

Among Mr Bolton's claims in the book is that Mr Trump was reluctant to enact policies designed to clamp down on Russian aggression towards the United States and its interests. He does little in the tome to explain his conclusions about the American leader's feelings towards Russia and Mr Putin.

But Mr Bolton does provide a peek into White House aides' feelings about the 2018 Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki, where Mr Trump sided with the Russian leader over his own intelligence agencies about whether Moscow meddled in the 2016 US election.

"This was hardly the way to do relations with Russia, and Putin had to be laughing uproariously at what he had gotten away with in Helsinki," Bolton wrote, according to the Washington Post, which received an advance copy.

Along with the claim in the lawsuit that Mr Bolton's book contains classified information, the administration's lawsuit contends it was not put through the full government security vetting process. But several major US media outlets that obtained a copy report Mr Bolton saying at points he wanted to quote Mr Trump directly, but had those parts taken out by security officers inside the federal government.

The president on Monday also accused his third national security adviser, who left the White House on contentious terms with the president, with lying in the book – even though he and his team appear to have not yet seen its contents.

"I would think that he would have criminal problems. I hope so," the president told reporters about Bolton and publisher Simon & Schuster making the book available for next week, as planned. "Maybe he's not telling the truth. He's been known not to tell the truth a lot."

White House officials have started referring to the longtime conservative hawk, who once worked alongside them, as "Book Deal Bolton."

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