John Bolton’s book release extravaganza is in full swing. Excerpts are being shared that make wild claims, some of which make no sense at all, while others are so mundane as to make you scratch your head.
The one that is currently blowing up is a claim that President Trump blessed the building of concentration camps by Chinese dictator Xi Jingping. Some of the usual suspects on the right are running with this.
HOOOO BOY that's bad
"Xi had explained to Trump why he was basically building concentration camps in Xinjiang. According to our interpreter, Trump said that Xi should go ahead with building the camps, which Trump thought was exactly the right thing to do." https://t.co/JC1gMDdmbq
— Seth Mandel (@SethAMandel) June 17, 2020
The claim comes via an anonymous interpreter, shared third hand by Bolton in which it’s said that Xi “basically” described concentration camps. There’s so much being assumed here that it’s almost not worth entertaining.
Who’s the interpreter? Why was this never mentioned by any of Bolton’s staff in their public testimonies? Something like this would have been noteworthy to everyone, right? And what does “basically” mean? That sounds an awful like a word a person uses when something didn’t actually clearly happen but they want to cover their own tail. I mean, “basically” leaves no room for misrepresentation and misinterpretation, right? Where’s the notes from this event? Why not just say what was clearly said instead of “basically?”
But even if we look past all those questions, does anyone seriously believe that a famed denialist and cunning dictator like Xi Jinping would actually tell Trump in the middle of trade negotiations that he’s building concentration camps? This is a guy who can’t admit the sky is blue, but he’s going to hand the United States that kind of leverage? Even if you are jaded enough to believe that Trump would say such camps are acceptable, no one of sound mind can honestly believe Xi would be dumb enough admit to such a thing.
None of this makes any sense. But there’s more, such as this “scandalous” claim.
A new book by former national security adviser John Bolton says President Trump asked China’s president during a 2019 summit to help his reelection prospects by purchasing more American farm products. https://t.co/Tt5juKXuoh
— The Associated Press (@AP) June 17, 2020
Well, we better start up the impeachment engine, because a President asking China to buy more American products while they are negotiating a trade deal is obviously a high crime and misdemeanor. What’s going on here is obvious. Bolton is interpreting something as “helping Trump’s reelection” without denoting that such a request serves the common good and would be a completely ordinary request for a president to make. This is a common tactic in the Trump era, whereby completely innocuous things are spun to be deeply disturbing, so much so that even asking a foreign country to do the right thing is now bad.
But it’s what is lacking in the book that is most noteworthy. Remember when Bolton was going to substantiate an illegal quid pro quo targeting Joe Biden between Trump and Ukraine? Yeah, that doesn’t happen.
Bolton says Trump "said he wasn’t in favor of sending [Ukraine] anything until all the Russia-investigation materials related to Clinton and Biden had been turned over." But these "materials" weren't the issue — it was allegedly coercing Ukraine to open its own Biden probe. pic.twitter.com/7tTbp6yZTN
— Aaron Maté (@aaronjmate) June 17, 2020
Back when Bolton was leaking to the press during impeachment (though he claims it wasn’t him, which is laughable), some of us pointed out at the time that the language being used was intentionally vague. First, there were no direct quotes, only interpretations by biased news outlets like The New York Times. Secondly, the descriptions of the excerpts of the book left way too much wiggle room, a sure sign that things weren’t as they were trying to be presented.
Recall, the scandalous claim was that Trump wanted a new investigation into Biden. But as I said at the time, the description of the leak appeared to only denote past investigative materials from already legitimized investigations. Now we know that I and many others were right. At least per Bolton’s telling in his book, Trump was asking not about a new politically motivated investigation, but that Ukraine comply with already existing investigations related to Russia.
We all know what’s really going on here.
If it were true, he would have said it under oath
He's selling books
And Journos are just dumber, underpaid PR he can use to hit number one on Amazon
Simple as that
— Comfortably Smug (@ComfortablySmug) June 17, 2020
While many in the conservative media feel the duty to take Bolton seriously because they’ve been shilling for him for almost two decades, some of us are under no such obligation. The so many didn’t see through the mustache jokes to what was a conniving, manipulative figure who never met a country he didn’t want to bomb is on them. If Bolton truly believed any of this sensationalist garbage, he’d have testified before Congress to it. Instead, he hid from a subpoena and refused to do so. Why? Because it’s easier to just lie (or misrepresent) in a book and make a lot of money instead.
The fact that a large number of conservative writers and commentators are willing to fall for this cynical game yet again is disappointing to say the least.