Political News

Ex-acting chief of staff unable to say how portions of Bolton's book are 'factually false' and also classified

Posted June 19, 2020 9:45 a.m. EDT
Updated June 19, 2020 9:53 a.m. EDT

— Former acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney claimed Friday that former national security adviser John Bolton's book contains portions that are "factually false," but could not explain how those passages were also deemed to contain classified information.

"The excerpts that I've seen have been factually false and it's very likely or possible that the stuff that we've not seen is classified," Mulvaney told CNN's Jim Sciutto on "New Day."

Mulvaney said he has not read Bolton's new book, "In the Room Where it Happened" in full, but during the interview he refuted multiple claims made by Bolton in excerpts that have been publicized.

Mulvaney, however, could not answer when asked by CNN why he would call portions of the book false, when the White House and National Security Council reviewer insisted certain passages be paraphrased because they contained classified information.

"The classification process is done by the National Security Council lawyers and I don't understand and don't pretend to understand, I'm not involved in the process for classifying information, as to what is classified and what is not, and what level of classification it gets," Mulvaney told CNN.

Bolton, who was national security adviser from March 2018 to September, claims in his book that President Donald Trump personally asked Chinese leader Xi Jinping to help him win the 2020 US presidential election, according to a copy of the book obtained by CNN Wednesday.

At a meeting during last year's G-20 Summit in Osaka, Japan, Bolton writes that Trump "stressed the importance of farmers and increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat in the electoral outcome," adding that he "would print Trump's exact words, but the government's prepublication review process has decided otherwise."

Asked about this, Mulvaney, who said he attended the Trump-Xi meeting, dismissed Bolton's description of what occurred as the former adviser putting "his whimsical spin on what actually happened at the meeting."

Mulvaney said Trump did discuss China buying more US agriculture products, which he admitted would "be good for the country and thus good" for the President's reelection chances.

"But to put those two factually true statements together to make it look like the President is begging China for inappropriate help, that's bizarre," he said.

Mulvaney said neither he nor a dozen others who were at the meeting recalled anything inappropriate.

In his book, Bolton also claims that when Xi told Trump last year that China was building concentration camps for the mass detention of Uyghur Muslims, Trump said Xi should go ahead building the camps, "which he thought was exactly the right thing to do."

The US State Department estimates that more than one million Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and members of other Muslim minority groups have been detained by the Chinese government in internment camps, where they are reportedly "subjected to torture, cruel and inhumane treatment such as physical and sexual abuse, forced labor and death."

Mulvaney told CNN on Friday, "I don't know anything about that conversation, because I wasn't in the room when that conversation took place, and neither was John Bolton."

A former congressman from South Carolina, Mulvaney was tapped at the start of the Trump administration to lead the White House Office of Management and Budget. Trump then made Mulvaney his acting chief of staff, before the President replaced him in March.

Trump has called Bolton's book "pure fiction" and "a compilation of lies and made up stories, all intended to make me look bad." He also claims that "many of the ridiculous statements" Bolton attributes to him "were never made."

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