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By Carol E. Lee, Peter Alexander, Sally Bronston and Jacob Gardenswartz

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to agree to trade policies that would help with his re-election in November, a request echoing the charges that led to his impeachment, according to an explosive new book by former national security adviser John Bolton, in which he describes his former boss as employing “obstruction of justice as a way of life.”

John Bolton says Trump asked China for re-election help in ...

Bolton writes that in a face-to-face discussion with Xi, the president seemed to suggest that China was able to influence U.S. politics, and he specifically asked Xi to increase the amount of soybeans and wheat China buys from the U.S. because it is important to the Midwestern voters who helped Trump win in 2016. If Xi agreed, Trump said, he would lift the tariffs he had enacted against China, Bolton writes.

In a nod to the contentious review process he underwent before publishing his book — one that the Justice Department contends he failed to complete — Bolton writes: “I would print Trump’s exact words, but the government’s prepublication review process has decided otherwise.”

Bolton’s much-anticipated, 494-page book paints in copious detail a devastating portrait of an erratic, ill-informed president who sees the Justice Department as his personal tool, prioritizes his own interests above all else, including the country, and myopically processes every decision through the lens of how it might affect his re-election chances.

Trump has accused Bolton of publishing classified information in his book, which is due out Tuesday, and suggested that he should face criminal charges.

The Justice Department has filed a lawsuit in hope of delaying publication. And Wednesday night, the Justice Department filed an emergency application for a temporary restraining order and a motion for an injunction to prevent publication. The department is asking for a hearing Friday, just days ahead of the scheduled release.

The White House has not directly responded to the charges in the book, but White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Wednesday tweeted a series of kind words Bolton has had for the president in the past, saying, “I will leave it to the media to ask why John Bolton’s memoir is debunked by his own words.”

NBC News obtained a copy of the book in advance of its release.

Bolton writes that Trump did not seem to know that the U.K. is a nuclear power — after more than a year in office — and wondered whether Finland was part of Russia.

He quotes Trump musing that journalists who refuse to reveal their sources “should be executed.”

And he recalls Trump’s telling Xi that he supported Beijing’s construction of concentration camps to detain Uighurs, a group of Muslims living in China.

“According to our interpreter, Trump said that Xi should go ahead with building the camps, which Trump thought was exactly the right thing to do,” Bolton writes.

Trump on Wednesday signed into law legislation aimed at addressing human rights abuses of Uighurs in China.


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