President TrumpDonald John TrumpLincoln Project launches new ad hitting Trump over China policies Trump criticizes Bolton as memoir excerpts offer scathing account of White House Bolton book portrays ‘stunningly uninformed’ Trump MORE felt his former Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonThe Memo: Bolton exposé makes Trump figure of mockery Deadline for Kansas Senate race passes without Pompeo filing Democrats launch probe into Trump’s firing of State Department watchdog, Pompeo MORE was a “block of granite” and that his one-time Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsDOJ civil division’s leader resigning The end of asylum — for now Trump to hold rally in Sessions’s hometown for opponent in Senate runoff: report MORE had “lost his mind.”
Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoThe Memo: Bolton exposé makes Trump figure of mockery Bolton book suggest Pompeo has dim view of Trump: reports Trump sanctions Syrian president’s wife, others over human rights atrocities MORE passed a note expressing that Trump was “full of shit” on negotiations with North Korea and expressed frustration about senior adviser Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerFormer Obama Ebola czar Ron Klain says White House’s bad decisions have put US behind many other nations on COVID-19; Fears of virus reemergence intensify Coronavirus Report: The Hill’s Steve Clemons interviews Ron Klain Koch groups ask White House to spare work visas MORE‘s expansive foreign policy portfolio.
Former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonLincoln Project launches new ad hitting Trump over China policies Trump criticizes Bolton as memoir excerpts offer scathing account of White House Bolton book portrays ‘stunningly uninformed’ Trump MORE bemoaned former Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisThe Memo: Bolton exposé makes Trump figure of mockery Budowsky: The conservative civil war Do not forget Lafayette Square on Election Day MORE for his “obstructionism” and mocked Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinBolton alleges Trump said it’d be ‘cool’ to invade Venezuela On The Money: Powell urges Congress to continue boosted jobless benefits ‘in some form’ | Trade chief denies Bolton claim that Trump asked Xi for election help | Trump administration releases new PPP loan forgiveness forms Overnight Energy: Senate passes major lands conservation bill | Mnuchin ordered to give Native American tribes full stimulus funding | Key Republican jeopardizes Trump consumer safety nominee MORE for his belief that “a deal was always in sight” no matter who the other party was.
Back-biting and behind the scenes mockery is constant in the Trump White House, according to a new book from Bolton that has become the talk of Washington, D.C. The former official describes an atmosphere where Trump often pits aides against one another, where Cabinet officials bad mouth the president behind his back and where vindictiveness is commonplace.
The Hill obtained a copy of Bolton’s book ahead of its scheduled publication next week. The Justice Department has sought an emergency order to block its publication, though multiple media outlets have already reported on its contents.
Trump’s feuds with former Cabinet officials are well known as he tends to ridicule them publicly once they’ve left the government. But Bolton’s book makes clear the president is often fixated on aides he dislikes or distrusts.
During a meeting the morning of Trump’s 2018 summit with Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinBolton book portrays ‘stunningly uninformed’ Trump Report finds Russian disinformation group tied to 2016 elections still active Putin says Russia dealing with coronavirus better than US MORE in Helsinki, Bolton wrote that the president “mostly complained about Jeff Sessions for his latest transgression, saying he had ‘lost his mind.’”
Trump would bring up Tillerson even after he had left the job, calling him “terrible” and bringing up how much he disliked him during conversations with Bolton, according to the book.
And Trump frequently voiced suspicion about Mattis, the widely respected general who in recent weeks has emerged as the latest outspoken critic who used to work for the president.
“He’s a liberal Democrat, you know that, don’t you?” Trump allegedly told Bolton during the flight to Helsinki.
“He’s leaving,” Trump informed Bolton after Mattis resigned in late 2019. “I never really liked him.”
Bolton portrays other Cabinet officials as equally willing to return the favor. Kelly lashes out in frustration regularly throughout the book, lamenting that Trump “doesn’t care what happens” to U.S. military members and fretting “What if we have a real crisis like 9/11 with the way he makes decisions?”
More surprisingly, Bolton chronicles multiple instances where Pompeo is critical of the president.
The secretary of State has been among Trump’s most loyal allies, but Bolton wrote that Pompeo was exasperated over Trump’s attempted nuclear diplomacy with North Korean leader Kim Jong UnKim Jong UnBolton book portrays ‘stunningly uninformed’ Trump The Memo: Bolton exposé makes Trump figure of mockery Bolton book suggest Pompeo has dim view of Trump: reports MORE.
Bolton also writes that Pompeo took issue with the president’s insistence on withdrawing U.S. forces from Afghanistan; and called it “horrific” when Trump abruptly told reporters the U.S. was withdrawing from a nuclear treaty with Russia.
“Even when Pompeo and I thought we had Trump decided on one candidate, we were often wrong,” Bolton wrote of the effort to find a replacement for Nikki HaleyNimrata (Nikki) HaleyGeorge Floyd’s brother calls on United Nations to study police brutality in US UN human rights body to debate ‘systemic racism, police brutality’ in US Nationwide protests spark renewed local efforts to get rid of Confederate symbols MORE at the United Nations. “As Pompeo said at the November G20 meeting, ‘You can’t leave him alone for a minute.’”
But the worst offender is Bolton. The book is stocked with recurring criticisms from the author of Trump, Mattis and Mnuchin in particular.
He described the president as “stunningly uninformed on how to run the White House, let alone the huge federal government.”
Bolton bemoans that Mnuchin “seemed as concerned with mitigating the impact of sanctions as with imposing them to begin with.”
The former national security adviser chastised the Treasury secretary for his confidence that a deal could be struck whether it was “with Turkish fraudsters or Chinese trade mandarins,” and he described the former Goldman Sachs executive as “eager” to participate in White House meetings and presidential trips.
Bolton targets Mattis throughout the book over what he describes as “obstructionism” in accomplishing his desired policy objectives such as withdrawing from treaties or taking a hard line against Iran. He also recounts telling Trump that the former Defense secretary “has a high opinion of his own opinion.”
“He may have established a reputation as a warrior-scholar for carrying with him on the battlefield a copy of Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations, but he was no debater,” Bolton wrote of Mattis.
The White House’s response to the book has only served to further underscore the nastiness that Bolton illustrates. Press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Thursday posited that Bolton had taken the title of “most disliked man in America” from former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyShowtime miniseries to feature Jeff Daniels as Comey, Brendan Gleeson as Trump GOP votes to give Graham broad subpoena power in Obama-era probe This week: Democrats introduce sweeping police reform package MORE
And Trump has unleashed on Bolton over the last 24 hours, deriding his former aide in interviews and on Twitter as a “wacko,” a “liar” and “washed up.”
“He wasn’t liked at all, and wasn’t respected very much,” Trump told The Wall Street Journal. “And as we got to know him, he was respected less and less. Personally, I thought he was crazy.”
Steve Clemons, Reid Wilson and Morgan Chalfant contributed.