Trump had no idea UK was a nuclear power, former aide John Bolton claims

Mr Bolton's book claims Mr Trump was ill informed, antagonistic towards allies

Graig Graziosi
Thursday 18 June 2020 07:53 BST
Trump says John Bolton should be prosecuted for publishing his book

President Donald Trump apparently had no idea the UK was a nuclear power, according to claims made in former National Security Advisor John Bolton's new book.

The Washington Post obtained a copy of Mr Bolton's book The Room Where it Happened: A White House Memoir - the release of which has been tied up in pre-publication review by the White House - and shared an anecdote in which Mr Trump seemed surprised that the UK possessed nuclear weapons.

According to the book, a British official in Mr Trump's presence once referred to the nation as a nuclear power, to which Mr Trump replied "Oh, you are a nuclear power?"

Mr Bolton maintains that the question was not asked in jest.

The UK tested its first nuclear weapons in 1952.

The former National Security Advisor ended his tenure under the Trump administration in September 2019, though the details of his leaving are debated. Mr Trump claims he fired Mr Bolton, while Mr Bolton claims he offered his resignation to the president, who then told him "they'd talk about it tomorrow." The following day Mr Trump made the claim that he'd fired Mr Bolton.

The UK anecdote is one of many included in the book that highlights how Mr Trump was "stunningly uninformed on how to run the White House, let alone the huge federal government."

In another instance, Mr Trump reportedly asked former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly if Finland was part of Russia.

In addition to lacking knowledge one would expect the president of the United States to possess, Mr Kelly also recalls alleged instances of Mr Trump supporting and offering help to global dictators.

At one point, Mr Bolton claims Mr Trump pressed Chinese President Xi Jinping to buy more soybeans from US farmers to help improve his chances at re-election in the 2020 US election. During the same conversation, Mr Bolton claims that Mr Trump supported Mr Xi's aspirations to build more "re-education camps" for Uighur Muslims.

More than 1 million Chinese Uighur Muslims have been forcibly placed into the camps. China claims the camps are voluntary, but many Uighurs dispute that claim and have reported friends and family members who have simply disappeared.

Mr Bolton also described a meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in which Mr Erdogan gave Mr Trump a memo claiming innocence for a Turkish firm being investigated by the US attorney for the Southern District over claims they'd violated Iranian sanctions.

Mr Trump reportedly told Mr Erdogan that the people investigating the firm were "Obama's people" and that once his people replaced them he would be able to do something about the investigation.

Mr Bolton said he was so alarmed by Mr Trump's willingness to deal with the dictators that he arranged a meeting with US Attorney General William Barr to discuss the issue. Mr Barr reportedly agreed with Mr Bolton.

Mr Bolton is notably quiet on the issues surrounding Mr Trump's impeachment, though he did describe the pressure the president put on Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Zelensky to give him information regarding former Vice President Joe Biden's son, Hunter, in return for military assistance "deeply disturbing."

"I thought the whole affair was bad policy, questionable legally and unacceptable as presidential behaviour," Mr Bolton wrote.

In as many instances as Mr Trump is portrayed playing nice with global dictators, Mr Bolton also portrays him acting antagonistically towards the US's allies.

At one point in the book, Mr Bolton recalls a 2018 NATO summit during which Mr Trump demanded NATO allies increase their nations' defence spending. Mr Trump reportedly sent a message to Mr Bolton claiming the US would "walk out" and "not defend" NATO members who did not increase their defence spending.

In another instance during a trade meeting, Mr Trump reportedly became incensed when advisers began discussing Japan. According to Mr Bolton, Mr Trump began ranting about Pearl Harbor.

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