Former National Security Adviser John Bolton’s recently published book includes both new revelations about President Donald Trump’s corrupt foreign policy as well as information further corroborating testimony from the impeachment inquiry into Trump’s Ukraine pressure campaign.
In his book, Bolton wrote that at the Group of 20 summit in Japan in June 2019, Trump asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to help him with his reelection chances by buying more U.S. agricultural products. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has denied this took place, but Trump’s efforts to use trade policy to serve his own political interests has been reported on before and his efforts to coerce foreign governments to investigate his political rivals are well documented.
In October 2019, Trump had brazenly told reporters at the White House that China should investigate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, and press had reported that Trump brought up the Bidens in a phone call with Xi in June 2019. The next month, as the impeachment investigation was in full swing, American Oversight filed a number of Freedom of Information Act requests with federal agencies, seeking communications related to efforts to persuade foreign countries to open such investigations.
Records obtained in response to those requests from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) included multiple emails between that office and Michael Pillsbury, one of Trump’s China advisers. In the fall, Pillsbury had told a reporter that he’d “got quite a bit of background on Hunter Biden from the Chinese” after a trip to Beijing.
In the spring of 2019, while his role was largely informal, Pillsbury sent multiple emails to Jamieson Greer, who was then USTR chief of staff, including about his participation on a “relevant advisory committee” requiring security clearance. In another email from April 11, Pillsbury requested a “brief meeting” with Lighthizer before he was heading to Beijing to meet “some reformers.”
In September of that year, it was Lighthizer’s turn to request a meeting. “Amb. Lighthizer would like to have you come in to catch up with him in the near future,” wrote Greer on Sept. 3. “Are you around this week?” Pillsbury mentioned that he had been invited to speak in Hong Kong and Beijing later that month, and indicated that he had met with Trump the week before at the White House.
And in anticipation of Pillsbury’s return from China — the trip during which he apparently had acquired information on the Bidens — Lighthizer followed up with Greer: “We may want to get him in next week if he’s back from China.”
You can read more about the revelations in Bolton’s book, and about American Oversight’s ongoing investigations into Trump’s foreign policy, here.
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