Report: Bolton Told Barr He Was Concerned Trump Was Doing Favors For Dictators
Former national security adviser John R. Bolton told Attorney General William P. Barr last year behind closed doors that he had concerns that President Trump was effectively granting personal favors to the autocratic leaders of Turkey and China, according to The New York Times.
In Bolton’s unpublished manuscript, which has already climbed to No. 17 on Amazon’s best-seller list, he writes that Barr’s Justice Department was investigating companies in those countries. According to the manuscript, Barr was worried that Trump had created the appearance that he had undue influence over what would typically be independent inquiries.
However, the Justice Department’s spokeswoman, Kerri Kupec, posted a statement on Twitter disputing parts of Bolton’s account early Tuesday.
“There was no discussion of ‘personal favors’ or ‘undue influence’ on investigations, nor did Attorney General Barr state that the President’s conversations with foreign leaders was improper,” the statement said. “If this is truly what Mr. Bolton has written, then it seems he is attributing to Attorney General Barr his own current views -- views with which Attorney General Barr does not agree.”
Bolton wrote in the manuscript that Barr discussed Trump’s conversations with Chinese President Xi Jinping about the Chinese telecommunications firm ZTE, which plead guilty to violating American sanctions on doing business with North Korea and agreed to pay heavy fines in 2017. Trump lifted the sanctions a year later despite objections from his own advisers and Republican lawmakers.
Barr also allegedly cited remarks Trump made to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan about the investigation of Turkey’s second-largest state-owned bank, Halkbank, in 2018. The Justice Department was criticizing Halkbank on fraud and money-laundering charges for helping Iran evade sanctions imposed by the Treasury Department.
Meanwhile, Erdogan had been making personal appeals to Trump to use his authority to halt any additional enforcement against the bank. However, the Justice Department indicted the bank for aiding Iran, signaling an attempt by the administration to show it was taking a tough line on Turkey amid an outcry over Trump’s endorsement of its incursions in Syria.
In November, Bolton said in a private speech that none of Trump’s advisers shared the president’s views on Turkey and that he believed Trump adopted a more permissive approach because of his financial ties there. Trump’s company has a property in Turkey.