“The American news cycle has become so manic and surreal that there hasn’t been much time to reflect on the revelation, in the new book by the former national security adviser John Bolton, that Donald Trump encouraged President Xi Jinping of China in the building of concentration camps for its Muslim Uighur minority.
Bolton’s “The Room Where It Happened,” which I received this week in advance of its release on Tuesday, describes a conversation Trump had with Xi at the opening dinner of the Group of 20 meeting in Osaka, Japan, with only their interpreters present: “Xi explained to Trump why he was basically building concentration camps in Xinjiang. According to our interpreter, Trump said that Xi should go ahead with building the camps, which he thought was exactly the right thing to do.”
It is impossible, at this late date, to be shocked by the behavior of our depraved president. Nor is it surprising, given Trump’s treatment of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border, that he is pro-concentration camp.
But Americans should know that China’s detention of over a million people largely on religious grounds — a project that reports say includes torture, sterilization and forcing Uighur women to sleep with members of China’s Han majority to promote “ethnic unity” — is happening with our president’s behind-the-scenes approval. (In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Trump denied the account in Bolton’s book.)”
“. . . . All the same, there is information here that deserves whatever attention people can muster in the midst of plague and mass protest. Bolton provides, albeit belatedly, firsthand confirmation that Trump did exactly what he was impeached for — leveraging American military aid in exchange for Ukraine’s help in smearing Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden: “Aug. 20, I took Trump’s temperature on the Ukraine security assistance, and he said he wasn’t in favor of sending them anything until the Russia-investigation materials related to Clinton and Biden had been turned over,” Bolton writes.
Such behavior was nothing new for Trump; earlier Bolton describes him “pleading with Xi” for help in the 2020 election by making agricultural purchases from farm states. Though Bolton writes that the government’s pre-publication reviewers prevented him from using Trump’s exact words, Vanity Fair saw an unredacted version of the passage: “Make sure I win. I will probably win anyway, so don’t hurt my farms. … Buy a lot of soybeans and wheat and make sure we win.”
That Bolton did not testify to this earlier is to his immense disgrace. But it is a national disgrace that his confirmation of the Democrats’ impeachment case probably won’t matter, so inured are Republicans to staggering corruption.
Bolton’s warning to his ideological allies should be heeded, though it won’t be. Should Trump win in 2020, he writes, “conservatives and Republicans should worry about the removal of the political guardrail of Trump having to face re-election.”
Don’t buy this book. John Bolton doesn’t deserve to be rewarded for withholding testimony he had a duty to provide months ago. But don’t dismiss it either. The president cheered China’s concentration camps. At this point in the Trump era, it’s a constant challenge not to let oneself be bored by evil.”