Former National Security Advisor John Bolton is accusing President Donald Trump of asking Chinese President Xi Jinping to help Trump get reelected by agreeing to increase purchase of U.S. soybeans and other farm commodities, according to an excerpt from Bolton’s forthcoming book that was published by The Wall Street Journal.
Trump, sitting across from Xi at a bilateral meeting in Osaka on the sidelines of a G-20 summit, “stressed the importance of (U.S.) farmers and increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat in the electoral outcome,” according to the passage of Bolton’s book, “The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir.”
Xi, Trump said in the Bolton account, could ensure Trump would win his reelection.
Bolton said he would have printed Trump’s words verbatim from that June meeting last year if he had not been stopped from doing so as part of the government’s prepublication review.
The accusation is bolstered by the fact that Xi did indeed agree that China would ramp up its purchases of U.S. ag commodities. China famously agreed to buy $80 billion worth of U.S. farm goods over a two-year span. The “phase one” agreement went into effect on Feb. 14 and by early March, China was issuing tariff exemptions to importers.
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer spent much of Wednesday assuring U.S. lawmakers that China is following through on the promise to increase purchases of U.S. ag commodities.
“I think we have what is an excellent agreement,” Lighthizer said at a House Ways and Means Committee hearing Wednesday. “We expect it to be honored.”
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But later in the day, in a subsequent Senate Finance Committee hearing, Lighthizer also flatly denied that Trump appealed to Xi for political help.
He called Bolton’s accusation “completely crazy,” when pressed by Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J.
“Absolutely untrue,” Lighthizer said. “I was there. I have no recollection of that ever happening. I don’t believe it’s true. I don’t believe it ever happened. Would I recollect something as crazy as that? Of course I would recollect it.”
But Menendez and Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., expressed skepticism.
“If it’s true, it shows how clear it is that the (Trump) administration doesn’t really have any intention of actually solving our trade problems with China,” Menendez said.
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