Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden on Wednesday, June 17, seized on the claims made in former National Security Adviser John Bolton’s forthcoming book, accusing the president of having “sold out the American people to protect his political future.”
“Trump was willing to trade away our most cherished democratic values for the empty promise of a flimsy trade deal that bailed him out of his disastrous tariff war that did so much damage to our farmers, manufacturers, and consumers,” Biden said in a statement obtained by Newsweek.
“[Trump] wanted to have a trade deal with China as a talking point for his re-election campaign. … In exchange, he condoned interning more than 1 million Uighurs in concentration camps,” he added.
Bolton alleges in his upcoming memoir that President Trump backed the idea of more concentration camps in China, and asked Chinese leader Xi Jinping to help him get re-elected, according to excerpts obtained and published by The New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal.
Bolton wrote in “The Room Where It Happened” that President Trump “turned” a June 2019 conversation at the G-20 summit between himself and Xi “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.”
“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. 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,” Bolton wrote.
If John Bolton’s accounts are true, it’s not only morally repugnant, it’s a violation of Donald Trump’s sacred duty to the American people to protect America’s interests and defend our values.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) June 17, 2020
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has long oppressed and abused Uighurs and other Muslim groups whom it sees as a religious threat. The United Nations estimates that the CCP is detaining over 2 million minority peoples in detention camps. The Trump administration had sought strict measures to condemn the communist country over the issue.
On Wednesday, President Trump signed the Uighur Human Rights Bill calling for sanctions on those responsible for the CCP’s forced labor camps. The legislation requires the administration to levy financial sanctions and ban visas for CCP officials involved with the persecution of Uighurs.
President Trump has also ordered his administration to begin eliminating special U.S. treatment for Hong Kong to punish the CCP, which is trying to curb Hong Kong freedoms via a new national security law. The president noted that the United States would also impose sanctions on individuals seen as responsible for “smothering—absolutely smothering—Hong Kong’s freedom.”
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, speaking at a Senate hearing on Wednesday, denied Bolton’s claims that Trump had sought the CCP’s help with the election, saying that Bolton’s allegation was “completely crazy.”
“Absolutely untrue, never happened. 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,” Lighthizer said.