Cover: Former Ambassador John R. Bolton speaking at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. Gage Skidmore CC 2.0
Bolton’s Book: Today “The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir” is officially released to the American public. Written by former national security adviser, John Bolton, the tell-all “is the most comprehensive and substantial account of the Trump Administration, and one of the few to date by a top-level official,” according to the book’s description. Over the weekend, a federal judge denied a Trump administration request to block Bolton’s book from being published. The book allegedly contains damning allegations about the president according to The Hill. “Bolton writes that Trump is ‘stunningly uninformed’ and motivated by his personal and political interests over those of the country.” As a result, the “White House has attempted to paint Bolton as an opportunist who published classified information, but in doing so has elevated the former national security adviser’s book. It has been listed at No. 1 on the Amazon best-seller list for days leading up to its release” today. Here are the reactions to the memoir so far:
On the Left: “Let’s be honest,” Dahlia Lithwick and Scott Pilutik write for Slate. “It is a bitter pill to swallow to now be rooting for John Bolton, the man who opted for cashing in over testifying during the impeachment, when his revelations about Trump’s misdealings with foreign governments may have made a real difference. But here we are, not just rooting for the grifter-with-the-mustache against the grifter-with-the-hair, but also profoundly anxious at the fact that the Justice Department, as well as an array of federal prosecutors, have cheerfully lined up behind Barr to go after another one of Trump’s foes.” The Slate authors continue to point out that, “Bolton’s book jacket tauntingly claims that it’s ‘game on,’ but the real game was played, and lost, in January. Bolton didn’t even bother to show up or take sides. It’s painful to concede that Bolton’s story is still worth hearing.” In an opinion piece for CNN, Elie Honig writes that “Showing a remarkable lack of self-awareness, [Bolton] criticizes House investigators for committing ‘impeachment malpractice’ by failing to discover these critical facts. But how, exactly, should investigators have discovered this information when the key witness — Bolton himself — played games and refused to talk?” In summary, Democrats and left-leaning outlets are both excited and angry about Bolton’s book. Multiple accounts believe information about the Trump administration should be made public, but it should have been through sworn testimony, not a $2 million book deal.
On the Right: Paul Mirengoff of Power Line, an American conservative political blog written by three lawyers who attended Dartmouth College together, asserts the following. “First, if the book contains classified information, as Trump claims, it should not be published until all such information is removed… Second, if, as Trump claims, Bolton has violated any criminal law in connection with this book, he should be prosecuted. Third, as long as Bolton is providing a truthful account of his time as National Security Adviser and is complying with all legal requirements, I don’t have a problem with his book. The more Americans know about a president’s foreign policy decision making, the better able we are to assess the president’s performance… Fourth, I think, in particular, that Bolton has useful information to provide about President Trump’s temporary withholding of aid to Ukraine. This was the subject of an impeachment proceeding, after all. Although that proceeding is over, its occurrence makes the matter one of historical significance.” Kaylee McGhee of the Washington Examiner adds, “If Bolton’s account is true, Trump has betrayed his platform and the people who elected him. But that’s a big ‘if.’ For example, “in regards to Bolton’s accusation about the Uighur concentration camps: Why would [President Xi Jinping of China] openly admit this to the U.S.? China has denied reports about the Xinjiang region for years, and it strikes me as odd that Xi would suddenly be so open about it.” In summary, Republicans and right-leaning outlets are more skeptical of Bolton’s claims than Democrats but are still willing to hear what Bolton has to say.
Flag This: Whether you support President Trump or not, something needs to change with the administration’s hiring practices. According to the Brookings Institution, a think tank, President Trump’s “A Team” turnover is 88% as of June 19, 2020. This means that of the 65 “A Team” positions in the administration, 57 of them have faced turnover since 2017. Additionally, 38% of President Trump’s “A Team” departures have undergone serial turnover as of June 19, 2020. This means there have been multiple departures within a single position. For example, Anthony Scaramucci was the communications director for only 11 days. He was succeeded by Hope Hicks, who resigned Feb. 28, 2018. On July 5, 2018, Bill Shine was appointed to the White House communications director role with a slightly different official title, “Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications.” He resigned on March 8, 2019. Stephanie Grisham subsequently took over both the communications director and press secretary roles. Anyone who runs even just a small business knows how time-consuming it is to hire employees and train them. It’s an investment, and the revolving door at the White House with disgruntled former officials has to be distracting to President Trump and is certainly disorienting to the American public. This is dated, but as of March of 2019, over 20 books had already been published about the inner workings of the Trump administration. Add Bolton’s latest release to the list.