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Bolton book bombshells: Trump asked China's Xi for reelection help and told him to keep building concentration camps – CNN

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Bolton also charged that when Xi told Trump during a meeting at last year’s G-20 summit that China was building concentration camps for the mass detention of Uyghur Muslims, Trump said Xi should go ahead building the camps, “which he thought was exactly the right thing to do.”
At another meeting during the G-20 Summit in Osaka, Bolton writes Trump “stunningly” turned the conversation to the upcoming 2020 election. The former national security adviser said Trump “stressed the importance of farmers and increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat in the electoral outcome,” adding that he “would print Trump’s exact words, but the government’s prepublication review process has decided otherwise.”
Bolton accuses Trump of lying ahead of book publication
Bolton said the conversation turned back to the trade deal, and Trump “proposed that for the remaining $350 billion of trade imbalances (by Trump’s arithmetic), the US would not impose tariffs, but he again returned to importuning Xi to buy as many American farm products as China could.”
The allegation that Trump asked the leader of a major US adversary to help him win the next election will reverberate across Washington six months after Trump was impeached on charges he sought help from Ukraine with his reelection bid. Trump openly asked China to investigate his Democratic opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden last year, and has refused to accept the conclusion of US intelligence agencies that Russia interfered in the 2016 election to try to help him win.
The claims come as the Trump campaign has tried to make China a central issue of the 2020 election, framing the President as tougher on Beijing than Biden.
The interactions with Xi were just some of the unflattering details about Trump contained in Bolton’s book, titled “In the Room Where it Happened.” Bolton also writes that Trump directly connected US security aid to Ukraine with an investigation into his presumptive 2020 opponent — the key allegation in the Democrats’ impeachment case — and accuses Trump repeatedly of lying.

Legal battle escalates

The book has been subject to a months-long legal battle between the White House and the former national security adviser.
The fight escalated Tuesday after the Trump administration went to court to try to claw back Bolton’s earnings for the book and to potentially stop its publication, arguing in a lawsuit that Bolton had breached non-disclosure agreements and was risking national security by exposing classified information.
But the White House’s legal action has done little to stop details from Bolton’s book from becoming public as CNN and other media outlets reported Wednesday that they obtained advanced copies. It’s scheduled for official release next week.
The Justice Department asked a judge Wednesday for emergency help to stop Bolton’s book publication, taking another last-ditch step in court to ramp up pressure on the former national security adviser the week before his bombshell book is released to the public.
Several top intelligence and national security officials submitted sworn statements to the judge about classified information in Bolton’s book, amounting to an extraordinary level of firepower in the Justice Department’s latest emergency filing in court.
The officials, including Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, National Security Agency Director Paul Nakasone, and Director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center William Evanina, wrote in affidavits that the book still contained classified information.
In a letter sent to the White House last week, Bolton’s lawyer, Charles Cooper, accused the White House of seeking to block the book for “purely political reasons,” adding that “as a practical matter, (it) comes too late.”

‘Driven by reelection calculations’

Bolton’s book provides detailed accounts of Trump’s interactions with Xi.
At the G-20 summit, Bolton writes that when Xi proved amenable to reopening trade discussions, Trump extolled the Chinese leader as the greatest in that country’s history. Broadly speaking, Bolton characterized Trump’s interactions with Xi as “adlibbed,” bolstered by personal flattery and driven by political ambition rather than policy.
“I am hard-pressed to identify any significant Trump decision during my White House tenure that wasn’t driven by reelection calculations,” Bolton writes.
Trump signs Uyghur human rights bill on same day Bolton alleges he told Xi to proceed with detention campsTrump signs Uyghur human rights bill on same day Bolton alleges he told Xi to proceed with detention camps
Bolton described a litany of China-related matters where Trump subverted the US position based on conversations or gestures for Xi — tariffs, telecommunications, Hong Kong protests, even China’s mass detention of Uyghur Muslims.
“At the opening dinner of the Osaka G-20 meeting in June 2019, with only interpreters present, Xi had explained to Trump why he was basically building concentration camps in Xinjiang. According to our interpreter, Trump said that Xi should go ahead with building the camps, which Trump thought was exactly the right thing to do,” Bolton writes. “The National Security Council’s top Asia staffer, Matthew Pottinger, told me that Trump said something very similar during his November 2017 trip to China.”
The US State Department estimates that more than one million Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and members of other Muslim minority groups have been detained by the Chinese government in internment camps, where they are reportedly “subjected to torture, cruel and inhumane treatment such as physical and sexual abuse, forced labor, and death.” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Beijing’s treatment of the Uyghurs “the stain of the century.”
On the massive pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong last year, Bolton claimed that Trump said he didn’t “want to get involved,” and, “we have human-rights problems too.” In recent weeks, Trump has announced actions against China for its moves against Hong Kong’s autonomy.

Putin thinks he can play Trump ‘like a fiddle’

Xi was not the only world leader who Bolton says had Trump’s number.
In an interview with ABC News, Bolton said he thinks Russian President Vladimir Putin thinks he can play Trump “like a fiddle,” according to a clip that aired Wednesday.
“I think Putin is smart, tough. I think he see that he’s not faced with a serious adversary here. I don’t think he’s worried about Donald Trump,” Bolton said.
Trump has previously claimed that no other president has been tougher on Russia than he has but that claim has been questioned by several of his own advisers, in addition to Bolton.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was also able to manipulate Trump, Bolton says in his book.
Bolton writes extensively about his disagreements with Trump’s approach to North Korea before, during, and after the Singapore summit with Kim, which Bolton hoped would “collapse” before it happened and compared to the appeasement of Nazi Germany, even quoting Winston Churchill.
“The whole diplomatic fandango was South Korea’s creation,” Bolton writes, “relating more to its ‘unification’ agenda than serious strategy on Kim’s part or ours.”
Despite the objections of his advisers, Bolton writes that “Trump was desperate to have the meeting at any price.”
Bolton then writes that Kim had Trump “hooked” at the Singapore summit as they flattered each other in their meeting.
When Trump told Kim he would seek Senate approval of any nuclear deal, Bolton writes Pompeo passed Bolton a note saying “he is so full of shit.” Bolton suggests Pompeo was referring to Trump, not Kim.
The State Department did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment regarding Bolton’s claim.
That was not the only time Trump’s former national security adviser said top aides questioned, and even mocked, Trump in private.
Bolton says Trump repeatedly requested military options for Venezuela, a request that shocked several administration and military officials.
After one meeting at the White House with Florida Republican lawmakers, Bolton says Trump was convinced to throw his unequivocal support opposition leader Juan Guaido, after repeatedly wavering on doing so, yet still asked for a military option.
“Trump still wanted a military option, raising questions with the Florida Republicans who were plainly stunned, except for Sen. Marco Rubio who had heard it before and knew how to deflect it politely.”
Bolton says he then called then-acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford. “None of us thought that a military option was advisable at this point. To me, this exercise was solely to keep Trump interested in the objective of overthrowing Maduro, without actually wasting a lot of time on a nonstarter,” Bolton writes.
“I had the easy job, closing by saying ‘All I had to do was make the call,'” Bolton adds, noting that Dunford then responded jokingly, “‘Tag, I’m it!'”
“At least he still had a sense of humor,” Bolton notes.

Bolton says Democrats committed ‘impeachment malpractice’

Trump’s interactions with Xi are not the only examples of actions by the President that Bolton claims were troubling and should have been investigated as part of the House impeachment inquiry, which only focused on matters related to Ukraine, according to the the book.
Specifically, Bolton highlights Trump’s willingness to intervene in criminal investigations “to, in effect, give personal favors to dictators he liked,” noting cases involving law firms in China and Turkey. “The pattern looked like obstruction of justice as a way of life, which we couldn’t accept,” Bolton writes.
House Democrats wanted Bolton to testify last year, but he refused to do so, threatening a legal battle if he was subpoenaed. Bolton offered to testify during the Senate impeachment trial, but Republicans voted to reject hearing from any witnesses.
Bolton wrote that the Democrats’ conducted a hurried, partisan investigation, and accused them of committing “impeachment malpractice” by only focusing on Trump’s involvement with Ukraine.
On Wednesday, Democrats criticized Bolton for caring more about his book sales than Trump’s misconduct, while Republicans questioned Bolton’s credibility and accused him of having an ax to grind.
Bolton devotes his final chapter to the Ukraine matter, in which he was part of several key meetings, including some described by other witnesses during the impeachment proceedings. But Bolton leveled an accusation in the book that no impeachment witness did: that he directly heard Trump tie withholding US security aid to an investigation into the Bidens.
“The next morning, August 20, I took Trump’s temperature on the Ukraine security assistance, and he said he wasn’t in favor of sending them anything until all the Russia-investigation materials related to Clinton and Biden had been turned over,” Bolton writes.
Bolton declines to say whether he thinks Trump should have been impeached. “Whether Trump’s conduct rose to the level of an impeachable offense, I had found it deeply disturbing, which is why I had reported it to White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and his staff and Attorney General Bill Barr, and why Pompeo, Mnuchin, and I had worried over it in our own conversations.”
Bolton argued that even if he had been called to testify by the Senate, he is “convinced” that it would have made “no significant difference” to the outcome.
This story has been updated with additional details from the copy of the book obtained by CNN.

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Uyghur refugee vote by Canada MPs angers China

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OTTAWA –

The Chinese government says a motion MPs passed Wednesday to provide asylum to persecuted Uyghurs amounts to political manipulation by Canada.

MPs including Prime Mister Justin Trudeau unanimously called on Ottawa to design a program that would bring 10,000 people of Turkic origin, including Uyghurs, to Canada from countries other than China.

They passed a motion that acknowledges reports that Uyghurs outside China have been sent back to their country of birth, where they have faced arrest as part of Beijing’s crackdown on Muslim groups.

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Foreign ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said in Beijing that people in the Xinjiang region live in peaceful harmony, contradicting widespread reports of forced labour and sexual violence.

An English translation by the ministry said Canada should “stop politically manipulating Xinjiang-related issues for ulterior motives,” and Ottawa is “spreading disinformation and misleading the public.”

The non-binding motion said the government should come up with the outline of a resettlement program by May 12 that would begin in 2024 and meet its target within two years.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 2, 2023.

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Republicans push to remove Ilhan Omar from foreign affairs panel

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Washington, DC – In one of his first moves since becoming speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy is leading an effort to block Congresswoman Ilhan Omar from serving on the chamber’s Foreign Affairs Committee over her past criticism of Israel.

On Wednesday, the Republican majority in the House advanced a resolution to remove Omar from the panel. Democrats opposed the move, accusing McCarthy of bigotry for targeting the politician – a former refugee of Somali descent who is one of only two Muslim women serving in the US Congress.

A few Republicans initially opposed McCarthy’s effort, casting doubt over his ability to pass the resolution against Omar, given the GOP’s narrow majority.

But on Wednesday, all 218 House Republicans present voted to move forward with the measure, as Democrats remained united in support of Omar with 209 votes. A final vote is expected on Thursday as progressives rally around Omar.

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The Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) defended Omar, calling her an “esteemed and invaluable” legislator.

“You cannot remove a Member of Congress from a committee simply because you do not agree with their views. This is both ludicrous and dangerous,” CPC Chair Pramila Jayapal said in a statement on Monday.

The resolution

The resolution aimed at Omar, introduced by Ohio Republican Max Miller on Tuesday, cites numerous controversies involving the congresswoman’s criticism of Israel and US foreign policy.

“Congresswoman Omar clearly cannot be an objective decision-maker on the Foreign Affairs Committee given her biases against Israel and against the Jewish people,” Miller said in a statement.

Omar retorted by saying there was nothing “objectively true” about the resolution, adding that “if not being objective is a reason to not serve on committees, no one would be on committees”.

While the Republican resolution accuses Omar of anti-Semitism, it only invokes remarks relating to Israel, not the Jewish people.

For example, the measure calls out the congresswoman for describing Israel as an “apartheid state”, although leading human rights groups – including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch – have also accused Israel of imposing a system of apartheid on Palestinians.

Early in her congressional career in 2019, Omar faced a firestorm of criticism when she suggested that political donations from pro-Israel lobby groups – including the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) – drive support for Israel in Washington.

Omar later apologised for that remark but Palestinian rights advocates say accusations of anti-Semitism against Israel’s critics aim to stifle the debate around Israeli government policies.

In the past two years, AIPAC and other pro-Israel organisations spent millions of dollars in congressional elections to defeat progressives who support Palestinian human rights, including Michigan’s Andy Levin, a left-leaning, Jewish former House member.

‘Different standards’

Although the Democratic Party is standing behind Omar now, the Republican resolution prominently features previous criticism against the congresswoman by top Democrats.

Lara Friedman, president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace, an advocacy and research group, said Republicans are trying to validate their talking points against Omar by using the statements and actions of Democrats.

“They own this,” she said of Democrats who previously attacked Omar. “They made a decision in the last few years to jump on board and score political points at Ilhan’s expense … And that decision is now the basis for the resolution that is being used to throw her off the committee.”

Friedman added that Omar and her fellow Muslim-American Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib are held to “different standards” when it comes to addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Both legislators were the subject of racist attacks by former President Donald Trump who in 2019 tweeted that they, along with other progressive congresswomen of colour, “should go back to the broken and crime-infested places from which they came”.

Omar in particular became a frequent target of Trump’s anti-refugee rhetoric in the lead-up to the 2020 elections. At one rally in 2019, Trump failed to intervene as his supporters chanted “send her back” in reference to Omar.

Friedman said attacks on Omar appeal to the Republican base and play well for the party politically.

“It’s a really handy way to embarrass and corner Democrats because when Democrats vote against this tomorrow, the Republican argument is going to be: ‘I don’t get it. You said all these things [against Omar]. Why are you not holding her accountable?’ Politically, this is just fantastic for them.”

For her part, Omar has remained defiant, calling McCarthy’s effort to remove her from the committee, against initial opposition from his own caucus, “pathetic”.

Yasmine Taeb, legislative and political director at MPower Change Action Fund, a Muslim-American advocacy group, praised Omar’s commitment to a “human rights-centered foreign policy”.

“Rep. Omar speaks truth to power – a rarity in Congress. And House Republican leadership would rather waste time by attacking a progressive Black Muslim woman and pushing a far-right agenda than working on addressing the needs of the American people,” Taeb told Al Jazeera in an email.

Omar has been a vocal proponent of human rights and diplomacy in Congress. While her comments about Israel often make headlines, she criticises other countries too – including those in the Middle East – for human rights violations.

Still, critics accuse her of perpetuating anti-Semitic tropes in her criticism of Israel and even allies have described some of her comments as “sloppy”, if not malicious.

On Thursday, Win Without War, a group that promotes diplomacy in US foreign policy, decried the Republican push against Omar as an attempt to strip the House Foreign Affairs Committee of a “progressive champion and skilled legislator who challenges the political status quo”.

“Rep. Omar has helped raise the bar for progressive foreign policy in Congress. She has steadfastly advocated for cuts to the Pentagon budget, held US allies accountable for human rights abuses, and confronted the racism and Islamophobia present in US foreign policy,” Win Without War executive director Sara Haghdoosti said in a statement.

Committee wars

Congressional committees serve as specialised microcosms of Congress. The panels advance legislation, conduct oversight and hold immense power over the legislative process.

Usually, the party in power appoints the chairs and majority members of committees, while the opposition party names its own legislators to the panels.

But back in 2021, Democrats voted to remove Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene from her assigned committees for past conspiratorial, anti-Semitic and Islamophobic comments.

That same year, the Democratic House majority also formally rebuked Paul Gosar, another far-right Republican, for sharing an animated video that depicted him killing Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Now, Greene is an outspoken proponent of removing Omar from the Foreign Affairs Committee.

“No one should be on that committee with that stance towards Israel,” Greene said earlier this week. “In my opinion, I think it’s the wrong stance for any member of Congress of the United States – having that type of attitude towards our great ally, Israel.”

After Greene was stripped of her committee assignments, McCarthy had openly promised payback against the Democrats if they became the minority in the House, an event that came to pass in the 2022 midterm elections.

“You’ll regret this. And you may regret this a lot sooner than you think,” McCarthy said at that time.

The newly elected speaker has also blocked Democrats Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell from joining the intelligence committee. Schiff was the former chair of the panel.

Meanwhile, Republican Congressman George Santos, who is facing calls to step down for lying about his heritage and professional and personal history, “temporarily recused” himself from committee assignments as he is being investigated over his campaign conduct.

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Former interim Conservative leader Candice Bergen steps down as MP

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Member of Parliament and former interim Conservative leader Candice Bergen has resigned her seat in the House of Commons.

Bergen, 58, has represented the Manitoba riding of Portage—Lisgar since 2008. She served as interim leader of the Conservatives and leader of the Opposition from February to September 2022. Prior to that, she served as deputy leader of the Conservatives.

In a video posted to Twitter Wednesday, Bergen said she has submitted a letter of resignation, “ending an incredible and very fulfilling 14 years.”

Bergen thanked her constituents, family, volunteers, staff and political colleagues “on both sides of the aisle, regardless of your political stripe.”

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Bergen announced in September of last year that she would not seek reelection. Pierre Poilievre replaced her as Conservative leader that month.

Bergen did not give a specific reason for her resignation and did not mention any future plans.

“I’m choosing to leave now not because I’m tired or I’ve run out of steam. In fact, it’s the exact opposite,” she said in the video.

“I feel hopeful and re-energized. Hopeful for our strong and united Conservative Party, and our caucus, under the courageous and principled leadership of my friend, Pierre Poilievre.”

Bergen ended her goodbye message on a hopeful note.

“With God’s grace and God’s help, I believe that the best is yet to come. Thank you so much Portage—Lisgar, and thank you Canada.”

The Toronto Star was the first to report the story.

“On behalf of the Conservative Party of Canada, thank you Candice for your leadership, your devotion to our Conservative movement and your service to the people of Portage—Lisgar, and all Canadians,” Poilievre said in a tweet Wednesday.

The news means there will be a byelection in Portage—Lisgar to replace Bergen.

Manitoba Finance Minister Cameron Friesen announced last week that he’d step down as an MLA to seek the federal Conservative nomination in the riding.

The death of MP Jim Carr late last year set up a byelection in another Manitoba riding — Winnipeg South Centre. The Alberta riding of Calgary Heritage and the Ontario riding of Oxford are also up for byelections later this year.

“I thank her for her many years of service,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said of Bergen in a media scrum Wednesday.

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