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Bolton says Trump unfit for office as book alleges sweeping misdeeds

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Ex-national security adviser accuses US President of sweeping misdeeds in order to seek re-election

WASHINGTON : Donald Trump's former national security adviser John Bolton said the US president is unfit for office, according to interview excerpts released yesterday after portions of the top aide's upcoming book revealed a withering portrayal of his ex-boss.

"I don't think he's fit for office," Mr Bolton told ABC News in an interview.

"I don't think he has the competence to carry out the job."

The long-time foreign policy hawk, who left the White House in September, accused the president of sweeping misdeeds in order to seek re-election, including explicitly seeking Chinese President Xi Jinping's help, according to portions of his behind-the-scenes account.

Mr Trump also expressed a willingness to halt criminal investigations to favour dictators he liked, Mr Bolton said in excerpts published in several major newspapers on Wednesday that allege far more extensive accusations of impropriety than those that drove Mr Trump's impeachment.

Mr Trump dismissed the book, "The Room Where it Happened", as "pure fiction".

In a tweet calling Mr Bolton a "sick puppy", Mr Trump said the book is "a compilation of lies and made up stories, all intended to make me look bad".

"Many of the ridiculous statements he attributes to me were never made, pure fiction," he said.

CRITIQUE

The White House is seeking an injunction to prevent distribution of the book.

In a blistering critique, Mr Bolton alleges that Mr Trump's focus on winning a second term was the driving principle of his foreign policy - and that top aides routinely disparaged the president for his ignorance of basic geopolitical facts.

Mr Bolton also claims Mr Trump repeatedly showed a readiness to overlook Chinese human rights abuses - most strikingly telling Mr Xi the mass internment of Uighur Muslims was "exactly the right thing to do".

Mr Trump signed legislation on Wednesday calling for sanctions over the treatment of Uighur Muslims.

The bill, which Congress passed with only one "no" vote, was intended to send China a strong message on human rights by mandating sanctions against those responsible for oppression of the Muslim minority.

"I am hard-pressed to identify any significant Trump decision during my White House tenure that wasn't driven by re-election calculations," Mr Bolton writes.

In a key meeting with Mr Xi last June, Mr Trump "stunningly turned the conversation to the US presidential election, alluding to China's economic capability to affect the ongoing campaigns, pleading with Mr Xi to ensure he'd win".

Mr Bolton writes that Mr Trump stressed the importance of America's farmers and how "increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat" could impact the US electoral outcome.

"I would print Trump's exact words but the government's prepublication review process has decided otherwise," Mr Bolton says, referring to the requirement months ago that he have his manuscript vetted by US agencies.

CHAOTIC

Mr Bolton depicts a chaotic White House in which even top aides who publicly show fealty to the president were mocking him - while Mr Trump himself allegedly ignored basic facts such as Britain being a nuclear power or Finland being different from Russia.

During Mr Trump's 2018 summit with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un, according to excerpts, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo slipped Mr Bolton a note maligning the president, saying: "He is so full of s***."

The book is due for release next Tuesday. - REUTERS, AFP

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