U.S. President Donald Trump “didn’t really like” Justin Trudeau, a new book alleges, and ordered his staffers to disparage the Prime Minister on television talk shows after the G7 summit in Charlevoix, Que. – in part because Mr. Trump wanted to appear tough to North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.
The episode is outlined in The Room Where It Happened, the memoir by John Bolton, Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser. In the book, Mr. Bolton himself also unloads on former prime minister Jean Chrétien for suggesting Canada release Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou to appease the Chinese government.
The tome, a copy of which was obtained by The Globe and Mail ahead of its publication Tuesday, has caused a political earthquake in Washington. It portrays Mr. Trump as incompetent and corrupt, alleging that he once asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to help him win re-election and endorsed Beijing’s internment camps for Uyghurs. The White House has asked for a court injunction to stop publication.
Mr. Bolton served in his role for 17 months before Mr. Trump ousted him last September.
In one lengthy episode, Mr. Bolton recounts Mr. Trump’s clashes with other leaders at the Charlevoix summit in June of 2018. The President’s discussions with Mr. Trudeau “were far from amicable” as they sparred over the ongoing renegotiation of the North American free-trade agreement, he writes. When it came time to write the G7′s joint communiqué, Mr. Trudeau and French President Emmanuel Macron ganged up on Mr. Trump at a late-night negotiating session.
“Trump didn’t really like either Trudeau or Macron, but he tolerated them, mockingly crossing swords with them in meetings, kidding on the straight,” Mr. Bolton says.
But the President “had not troubled to prepare himself” for the talks, allowing Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Macron to press him into accepting their preferred language for the communiqué. At one point, Mr. Bolton says, he ran into Mr. Trump’s then-chief of staff, John Kelly, leaving the negotiating room. “This is a disaster,” Mr. Bolton quotes Mr. Kelly as saying.
The next morning, all of the other leaders cornered Mr. Trump at breakfast and he agreed to sign the communiqué, before leaving the summit early for a meeting in Singapore with Mr. Kim.
Once aboard Air Force One, Mr. Trump became enraged when Mr. Trudeau told his closing summit press conference that Canada would fight back against U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminium. The President took to Twitter to back out of the communiqué, then told aides planning to appear on weekend talk shows that they should use the air time to blast Mr. Trudeau.
“Just go after Trudeau. Don’t knock the others. ‘Trudeau’s a behind-your-back guy,’ " Mr. Bolton quotes Mr. Trump saying. The President said that by coming down hard on Mr. Trudeau, he would send a message to Mr. Kim: “We don’t take any shit.”
Mr. Trump’s economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, told CNN that Mr. Trump was getting “pushed around” by Mr. Trudeau. Peter Navarro, a trade adviser, said on Fox News that “weak, dishonest Justin Trudeau” would have “a special place in hell” for defying the President.
Mr. Trudeau, for his part, later made light of the incident. At a NATO summit in Brussels the following month, Mr. Bolton recounts running into the Prime Minister during a tense meeting at which Mr. Trump demanded that the other leaders contribute more money to the alliance.
“It was clear things were in dire straits. Canada’s Trudeau asked, ‘Well, John, is this one going to blow up too?’ I answered, ‘Plenty of time, what could go wrong?’ and we both laughed,” Mr. Bolton writes.
The book also discusses the Canadian arrest of Ms. Meng in Vancouver on a U.S. warrant for allegedly breaking sanctions on Iran. Mr. Trump did not seem to understand the gravity of the charges against Ms. Meng, Mr. Bolton writes. The President referred to Ms. Meng as “the Ivanka Trump of China” and suggested “Huawei could also be simply another U.S. bargaining chip in the trade negotiations” with Beijing.
At one point, Mr. Bolton says, Mr. Trump decided to lift the ban on Huawei building the U.S.‘s 5G network. The ban was put in place because of fears that, through Huawei, the Chinese government could control U.S. networks and spy on Americans. Mr. Trump’s staff had to reverse the President’s decision, Mr. Bolton says.
Mr. Bolton also takes aim at Mr. Chrétien over his attempt to interfere in the situation. Last year, The Globe revealed that the former prime minister was floating a plan for the release of Ms. Meng in exchange for China releasing Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor. The two were arrested, and recently charged with spying, in apparent retaliation for the case against the Huawei CFO. Mr. Bolton says Mr. Chrétien was “never a friend of the U.S.” and thought “Canada should simply not abide by our extradition treaty.”
Then-foreign affairs minister Chrystia Freeland swiftly shot down Mr. Chrétien’s idea. Ms. Meng remains on bail in Vancouver, awaiting the outcome of extradition proceedings to the U.S.
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