Former National Security Advisor John Bolton claims in his new book and a Wall Street Journal op-ed that President Donald Trump asked China to help him win re-election during trade negotiations with Chinese Premier Xi Jinping.
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, who was at the meeting in question, called Bolton’s claim “completely crazy.”
However, something similar did happen — when President Barack Obama met his Russian counterpart in 2012.
Obama was caught on an open mic at a meeting in South Korea speaking with then-President Dmitry Medvedev, who was a placeholder for then-Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who would later return to the Russian presidency.
Obama promised Putin — via Medvedev — that if Russia would keep things calm during the 2012 U.S. presidential election, Obama would have more flexibility to make further concessions on missile defense in his second term:
President Obama: On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved but it’s important for him to give me space.
President Medvedev: Yeah, I understand. I understand your message about space. Space for you…
President Obama: This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.
President Medvedev: I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir.
While the U.S. media reported the story, few expressed outrage about Obama’s promise, outside the conservative media.
In the Journal, Bolton wrote Wednesday:
Trump said approvingly that there was great hostility to China among the Democrats. Trump then, stunningly, turned the conversation to the coming U.S. presidential election, alluding to China’s economic capability and pleading with Xi to ensure he’d win. He stressed the importance of farmers and increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat in the electoral outcome. I would print Trump’s exact words, but the government’s prepublication review process has decided otherwise.
Lightizer denies that ever happened. Moreover, what Bolton omits is that at the time of that meeting in June 2019, China had already intervened in domestic U.S. politics — not only by aiming tariffs at farmers, but by producing an anti-tariff film aimed at farmers in Republican-held districts in California.
Democrats would go on to win all seven Republican-held districts they had targeted in California in the 2018 midterm elections.
Obama’s pitch for Russian help in 2012 was brazen, public, and involved severe compromises to U.S national security.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His new book, RED NOVEMBER, is available for pre-order. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.