By Arshad Mohammed and Steve Holland
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Former U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton excoriated former President Donald Trump as an utterly self-interested man who would punish personal enemies and appease adversaries Russia and China in a new edition of his memoir released on Tuesday.
Bolton, who served in Trump’s White House in 2018 and 2019, accused the Republican presidential frontrunner of having no political philosophy or coherent policy outlook. If re-elected, Trump could leave the NATO security alliance, curb support to Ukraine despite Russia’s 2022 invasion, embolden China to blockade Taiwan and generally pursue isolationism, Bolton warned.
“Trump is unfit to be president,” Bolton wrote in the new foreword to “The Room Where it Happened,” his account of the 17 months he spent as Trump’s national security adviser. “If his first four years were bad, a second four will be worse.”
While Trump casts himself as the underdog’s champion, once saying “for those who have been wronged and betrayed, I am your retribution,” Bolton argues he is fundamentally self-regarding.
“Trump really cares only about retribution for himself, and it will consume much of a second term,” he wrote in the forward to the paperback edition of his memoir, which painted a bleak picture of America during a second Trump term.
Trump senior advisor Jason Miller said: “For someone who professes to have such great disdain for President Trump, ‘Book Deal Bolton’ sure has found a way to grift off the relationship”.
Bolton said before serving Trump he mistakenly believed the burdens of office would discipline the president. In the event, he found the former president consumed by self-interest.
“He cares almost exclusively about his own interests,” Bolton writes, suggesting Trump would want to be surrounded by “a White House of serfs” to execute his orders unquestioningly.
He also makes a case that Trump, revered by the right for appointing Supreme Court justices who overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that recognized women’s constitutional right to abortion, may not pursue conservative policies if re-elected.
Bolton said Trump’s inability to run for a third term under the U.S. Constitution means “the political constraints around him are much looser, and the real ‘guardrail’ of voter opinion will be minimized.”
Bolton saves some of his harshest words for foreign policy, writing Trump sent an “isolationist virus” coursing through the Republican party and that “in no arena … has the Trump aberration been more destructive than in national security.”
He also argued Trump could withdraw from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a prospect likely to please Russian President Vladimir Putin, adding that “it is almost inevitable that a second-term Trump policy on Ukraine will favor Moscow.”
Taiwan and others along China’s periphery “face real peril in a second Trump term,” Bolton adds, suggesting that the risks of China under President Xi Jinping manufacturing a crisis over Taiwan – perhaps by blockading the island – would rise.
“It is a close contest between Putin and Xi Jinping who would be happiest to see Trump back in office,” he writes.
(Reporting By Steve Holland in Washington and by by Arshad Mohammed in Saint Paul, Minn.; Writing by Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Michael Perry)