Bolton Says He Warned Barr About Trump's Potential 'Obstruction of Justice'

Former White House national security adviser John Bolton said that he warned Attorney General William Barr about what he believed was a pattern of "obstruction of justice" by President Donald Trump during his time in the administration.

"The pattern looked like obstruction of justice as a way of life, which we couldn't accept," Bolton writes in his forthcoming book, The Room Where It Happened, according to The New York Times.

Bolton was referring to what he saw as the president's willingness to "give personal favors to dictators he liked," mentioning specific instances involving Turkey and China. He said he raised his concerns with Barr directly.

Newsweek reached out to the White House and the Justice Department for comment but did not hear back before publication.

Donald Trump and John Bolton
President Donald Trump speaks to the media as national security adviser John Bolton listens during a White House meeting on August 20. Alex Wong/Getty

The Trump administration on Tuesday sued Bolton in an effort to prevent the publication of his book, which is scheduled for release by Simon & Schuster on June 23. Bolton and the publishing house have said the book was already vetted by the White House to ensure it did not contain any information harmful to national security.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Tuesday that the book was "full of classified information," noting that it was "inexcusable" for it to be published.

Bolton, who served in the Republican administrations of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, said he resigned from the White House last September. But Trump has said he fired him.

During the House impeachment inquiry late last year, Bolton declined to testify, deferring to the president's claims of executive privilege. He later publicly said that he'd testify before the Senate but was never called. Trump was impeached in the Democratic-controlled House but was acquitted by the Republican-controlled Senate.

In his new book, Bolton reportedly lays out specific instances of investigations Trump was willing to interfere with in an effort to bolster his relationships with the presidents of Turkey and China. Bolton also criticizes Democrats in the House for rushing through the impeachment investigation and not looking into these other allegations.

The Washington Post reported on a specific instance mentioned in Bolton's book, in which Trump urged Chinese President Xi Jinping to buy additional agricultural exports from the U.S. in an effort to bolster his re-election chances.

Trump "then, stunningly, turned the conversation to the coming U.S. presidential election, alluding to China's economic capability to affect the ongoing campaigns, pleading with Xi to ensure he'd win," Bolton writes. "He stressed the importance of farmers, and increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat in the electoral outcome. I would print Trump's exact words but the government's prepublication review process has decided otherwise."

Another instance, involving Turkey, was also in the Post's report. Bolton alleged that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan personally asked Trump to interfere in an investigation being carried out by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York into a Turkish company accused of violating sanctions against Iran.

"Trump then told Erdogan he would take care of things, explaining that the Southern District prosecutors were not his people, but were Obama people, a problem that would be fixed when they were replaced by his people," Bolton writes.

The former Trump adviser suggested that the president would put his own personal interests above those of the nation, according to the Times' reporting.

"A president may not misuse the national government's legitimate powers by defining his own personal interest as synonymous with the national interest, or by inventing pretexts to mask the pursuit of personal interest under the guide of national interest," Bolton writes.

Bolton will do an interview with ABC News on Sunday at 9 p.m. ET. In an ad promoting the interview, ABC News chief global affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz asks Bolton directly: "Is the president lying?" He responds: "Yes, he is."