Federal prosecutors are weighing whether to criminally charge John Bolton with disclosing classified information in his upcoming White House memoir, and the Justice Department is expected in coming days to ramp up its legal campaign to block publication of a book that is being billed as a scathing rebuke of President Trump, according to people familiar with the matter.
In excerpts published by The Washington Post, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, Bolton also claims Trump repeatedly showed a readiness to overlook Chinese rights abuses - most strikingly telling Xi the mass internment of Uighur Muslims was "exactly the right thing to do".
"I would print Trump's exact words but the government's pre-publication review process has decided otherwise", said Mr Bolton, who is facing a lawsuit from the Department of Justice to block the book's publication.
A United States federal prosecutor has sued to stop the upcoming publication, slated for next week, saying the work is a breach of Bolton's confidentiality agreements and a national security threat.
On Tuesday, the Trump administration sued the former national security adviser to prevent him from releasing the book.
Bolton also alleges Trump encouraged Xi to build interment camps for Muslim minority groups. He said in some cases he was asked to add phrases like, "in my view", to make it clear he was expressing his opinion instead of relying on sensitive information.
House Democrats asked Bolton in the fall to testify in their impeachment inquiry, but he declined to participate, saying he would only testify if a federal judge ruled in an unusual lawsuit brought by a former deputy who sought clarity on whether he should comply with a similar subpoena or follow White House orders not to cooperate. The aid was ultimately released once the hold-up became public.
In this file photo taken on June 29, 2019, China's President Xi Jinping (R) greets US President Donald Trump before a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Osaka.
"He did not seem to know, for example, that Britain is a nuclear power and asked if Finland is part of Russia", Mr Bolton writes.
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"Absolutely untrue. Never happened". I don't believe it's true. "I don't believe it ever happened", Mr Lighthizer said. "Would I recollect something as insane as that?"
The Republican-controlled Senate ultimately acquitted the president on that count and a count of obstructing Congress's investigation of the incident.
Bolton's lawyer, Charles Cooper, has said that Bolton cooperated White House vetting of the manuscript since last December, when the manuscript was first submitted to the National Security Council for review.
Mr Trump continually pandered to Mr Xi, Mr Bolton wrote.
China has publicly brushed away criticism of its crackdown in Xinjiang, which it launched in 2014 as the "Strike Hard Against Violent Extremism" campaign in a vast resource-rich territory whose inhabitants are largely distinct, culturally and ethnically, from the country's Han Chinese majority.
"With only interpreters present, Xi had explained to Trump why he was basically building concentration camps in Xinjiang".
"Trump didn't seem to realise Pompeo hadn't actually seen Kim Jong Un [during the trip], asking if Pompeo had handed [the CD]" to him, Bolton writes.
According to several major news organizations that were mailed advance copies of the memoir, Bolton joins other administration alumni in airing more than a little bit of 45's dirty laundry.