The Room Where It Happened review: John Bolton fires broadside that could sink Trump – The Guardian

Posted By on June 21, 2020

John Boltons near-600-page tome is the most damning written account by a Trump administration alumnus, the one that stands to haunt the president come November. In the authors judgment, I dont think hes fit for office. I dont think he has the competence to carry out the job. Joe Biden couldnt say it better himself.

Finally, Donald Trumps third national security adviser is spilling his guts. Trump begging for Chinas assistance in 2019 makes his waltz in 2016 with WikiLeaks almost comical. Make sure I win Buy a lot of soybeans and wheat and make sure we win, said the MAGA King, abasing himself before Xi Jinping, successor to the Dragon Throne, in the uncut version of Boltons narrative.

The presidents loyalists know they are staring at a problem that isnt disappearing. Insult is the only available weapon. Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, called Bolton a traitor. Peter Navarro, the White House trade hawk, labeled The Room Where It Happened deep swamp revenge porn.

On Saturday, a federal judge declined to block the books publication. Make that three big losses in one week for Bill Barrs justice department. First, LGBTQ workforce rights, then Daca and the Dreamers, now this. And thats not including the standoff with the US attorney for the Southern District of New York that didnt got quite as planned for Trump and Roy Cohn 2.0.

Trump trails Biden by double digits. His consigliere, Rudy Giuliani, is begging for more than three debates in the fall. Tulsa was a bust. The presidents tailspin is pronounced, showing no sign of let-up.

To quote James Baker, 'Johns an extraordinarily bright guy.' Baker didnt say wise

The Room Where It Happened is laden with proximity and credibility, which makes it a book to be believed. Putting things into perspective, Trumps justice department never went after A Warning, an insider-wannabes account of Trumpian bedlam penned by Anonymous. Likewise, no one will confuse Bolton with Omarosa or Sean Spicer. There is no reality TV in Boltons past or future. Just the publics verdict.

Not surprisingly, Trump bashes Bolton as a liar and threatens him with criminal prosecution. But Bolton retains his famed notepads. Trump beware.

The presidents public persona is little different from the man behind the Resolute Desk. The Room Where It Happened chronicles, for example, Trumps animus toward the late Senator John McCain. Bolton describes the presidents vindictiveness, as evidenced by the constant eruptions against John McCain, even after McCain died and could do Trump no more harm.

Back in the day, Bolton was recruited by James A Baker III, like McCain a Republican lion, Ronald Reagans chief of staff and George HW Bushs secretary of state. To quote Baker, Johns an extraordinarily bright guy.

Baker didnt say wise.

In 2018, when the president was looking to offload HR McMaster, his second national security adviser, Bolton was on Fox News auditioning. Trump liked what he saw and heard. The rest is spectacle.

Bolton is neither hero nor martyr. Its not in his DNA. A staunch proponent of the Iraq war and an implacable Iran foe, he sees death as something for others. In his Yale University 25th reunion yearbook, he wrote: I confess I had no desire to die in a south-east Asian rice paddy. I considered the war in Vietnam already lost. Think of Dick Cheney saying the quiet part loud in Dolby sound.

Late last year, during impeachment proceedings against Trump, the nation focused on the congressional testimony of Fiona Hill and Lt Col Alexander Vindman, members of Boltons own National Security Council. Bolton himself sat mum, despite the fact he had already left the White House. Like Nero, he fiddled when things got hot.

During the impeachment trial, Bolton said he would respect a Senate subpoena demanding his testimony knowing that writ would never arrive. Even as The Room Where It Happened is published, Senate Republicans persist in claiming Boltons revelations would not have changed a thing.

He may have come to loathe the president, but 'owning the libs' took precedence

Bolton witnessed the president trading national security for dirt on Biden, bartering the US justice system for Turkeys benefit, turning into Xis lapdog. But when it counted, Bolton elected to hold his peace. Belatedly posing as virtuous brings limited rewards.

For the price of a publishers advance, Bolton now opines that the House Democrats committed impeachment malpractice by not broadening their investigation. He may have come to loathe the president, but owning the libs took precedence.

In case anyone forgot, once upon a time Bolton was a client of Cambridge Analytica, the now defunct Breitbart affiliate and Robert Mercer-owned company that hoovered up personal data and illicitly interfered in the Brexit vote.

In 2014, Boltons Super Pac contacted with the company for behavioral microtargeting with psychographic messaging. That meant plundering Facebook users data.

According to whistleblower Christopher Wylie: Bolton Pac was obsessed with how America was becoming limp-wristed and spineless and it wanted research and messaging for national security issues. In his book, Boltons description is more modest: In late 2013, I formed a Pac and a Super Pac to aid House and Senate candidates who believed in a strong US national security policy.

He also shares world leaders impressions of Trump Incs policy chops. The Room Where It Happened records the doubts of Benjamin Netanyahu, Israels prime minister, about Jared Kushners ability to deliver Middle East peace.

Says Bolton, Netanyahu was enough of a politician not to oppose the idea publicly, but like much of the world, he wondered why Kushner thought he would succeed where the likes of Kissinger had failed. Delusion? Hubris? Either will do.

On that score, the author observes the relationship between the Israeli prime minister and Kushners family had spanned decades. In a non-denial denial, Netanyahu has said he has complete faith in Kushners abilities and rejects any description to the contrary.

Boltons prose is lackluster. But thats a relatively minor shortcoming. More egregious is the books title, which is lazy and self-aggrandizing. Bolton has ripped-off Lin-Manuel Miranda and compared himself to Alexander Hamilton, founding father and first treasury secretary. Talk about overreach.

In Mirandas Broadway smash, Hamilton, Aaron Burr laments his lack of nexus to power, as opposed to the plays protagonist, who is negotiating a grand compromise on the federal governments assumption of the states debt. In song, Burr complains: I wanna be in the room where it happens.

When an American president is caught giving a thumbs-up to concentration camps for Muslims an allegation the White House has not denied and his son-in-law is the grandson of Holocaust survivors, thats one heckuva story.

Just before the book oozed out, Steve Bannon, another Cambridge Analytica partner, predicted China would be the centerpiece of this years campaign. How right he is.

Except it will be Trump, not Biden, who will be catching grief for being the Middle Kingdoms poodle. Vladimir Putin, move over. The Room Where It Happened is the best opposition research dump. Ever.

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The Room Where It Happened review: John Bolton fires broadside that could sink Trump - The Guardian

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