Mr. Bolton writes that he raised concerns about both cases with Mr. Barr, who shared them. “Barr said he was very worried about the appearances Trump was creating,” Mr. Bolton writes. Similarly, he recalls, Pat A. Cipollone, the White House counsel, “was plainly stunned at Trump’s approach to law enforcement, or lack thereof.”
Just as Mr. Trump sought Ukraine’s help against his domestic rivals, he similarly married his own political interests with policy during a meeting with Mr. Xi on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit meeting last summer in Osaka, Japan, according to the book. Mr. Xi told Mr. Trump that unnamed political figures in the United States were trying to start a new cold war with China.
“Trump immediately assumed Xi meant the Democrats,” Mr. Bolton writes. “Trump said approvingly that there was great hostility among the Democrats. He 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.” (Mr. Bolton says he would have printed Mr. Trump’s exact words, “but the government’s prepublication review process has decided otherwise.”)
Robert Lighthizer, the president’s trade representative, denied on Wednesday that Mr. Trump sought election help from China during that meeting. “Absolutely untrue,” he said when asked during a Senate hearing. “Never happened. I was there. I have no recollection of that ever happening. I don’t believe it’s true.”
Mr. Barr, for his part, denied Mr. Bolton’s version of their conversations. “There was no discussion of ‘personal favors’ or ‘undue influence’ on investigations, nor did Attorney General Barr state that the president’s conversations with foreign leaders was improper,” said Kerri Kupec, a Justice Department spokeswoman.
Mr. Bolton does not say these were necessarily impeachable offenses and adds that he does not know everything that happened with regard to all of these episodes, but he reported at least some of them to Mr. Barr and Mr. Cipollone. They should have been investigated by the House, Mr. Bolton says, and at the very least they constituted abuses of a president’s duty to put the nation’s interests ahead of his own.
“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 guise of national interest,” Mr. Bolton writes. “Had the House not focused solely on the Ukraine aspects of Trump’s confusion of his personal interests,” he adds, then “there might have been a greater chance to persuade others that ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ had been perpetrated.”
Katie Benner, Ana Swanson and Edward Wong contributed reporting.