President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden heading to Kansas City to promote infrastructure package Trump calls Milley a 'f---ing idiot' over Afghanistan withdrawal First rally for far-right French candidate Zemmour prompts protests, violence MORE felt his former Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonHillicon Valley — Blinken unveils new cyber bureau at State Blinken formally announces new State Department cyber bureau Hillicon Valley — TikTok, Snapchat seek to distance themselves from Facebook MORE was a “block of granite” and that his one-time Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsPress: For Trump endorsement: The more sordid, the better Those predicting Facebook's demise are blowing smoke If bitcoin is 'digital gold,' it should be taxed like gold MORE had “lost his mind.”
Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoHaley has 'positive' meeting with Trump No time for the timid: The dual threats of progressives and Trump Psaki: Sexism contributes to some criticism of Harris MORE passed a note expressing that Trump was “full of shit” on negotiations with North Korea and expressed frustration about senior adviser Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerBiden celebrates start of Hanukkah Kushner looking to Middle East for investors in new firm: report Watchdog finds no money has flowed out of agency tasked by Trump admin to fight pandemic MORE's expansive foreign policy portfolio.
Former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonWhen will Biden declare America's 'One China, One Taiwan' policy? India's S-400 missile system problem Overnight Defense & National Security — GOP unhappy with Afghan vetting MORE bemoaned former Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman Mattis The US can't go back to business as usual with Pakistan The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate nears surprise deal on short-term debt ceiling hike Overnight Defense & National Security — Pentagon chiefs to Congress: Don't default MORE for his “obstructionism” and mocked Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden to tackle omicron risks with new travel rules Mnuchin and McConnell discuss debt limit during brief meeting Major Russian hacking group linked to ransomware attack on Sinclair: report MORE for his belief that “a deal was always in sight” no matter who the other party was.
Back-biting and behind the scenes mockery is constant in the Trump White House, according to a new book from Bolton that has become the talk of Washington, D.C. The former official describes an atmosphere where Trump often pits aides against one another, where Cabinet officials bad-mouth the president behind his back and where vindictiveness is commonplace.
The Hill obtained a copy of Bolton's book ahead of its scheduled publication next week. The Justice Department has sought an emergency order to block its publication, though multiple media outlets have already reported on its contents.
Trump’s feuds with former Cabinet officials are well known as he tends to ridicule them publicly once they've left the government. But Bolton's book makes clear the president is often fixated on aides he dislikes or distrusts.
During a meeting the morning of Trump’s 2018 summit with Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinUkraine rejects claims that it violated Belarus air space Ernst on Russian buildup on Ukraine border: 'We must prepare for the worst' Biden cannot allow his domestic fumbles to transfer to the world stage MORE in Helsinki, Bolton wrote that the president “mostly complained about Jeff Sessions for his latest transgression, saying he had ‘lost his mind.’”
Trump would bring up Tillerson even after he had left the job, calling him “terrible” and bringing up how much he disliked him during conversations with Bolton, according to the book.
And Trump frequently voiced suspicion about Mattis, the widely respected general who in recent weeks has emerged as the latest outspoken critic who used to work for the president.
“He’s a liberal Democrat, you know that, don’t you?” Trump allegedly told Bolton during the flight to Helsinki.
“He’s leaving,” Trump informed Bolton after Mattis resigned in late 2019. “I never really liked him.”
Bolton portrays other Cabinet officials as equally willing to return the favor. Former chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE lashes out in frustration regularly throughout the book, lamenting that Trump “doesn't care what happens” to U.S. military members and fretting “What if we have a real crisis like 9/11 with the way he makes decisions?”
More surprisingly, Bolton chronicles multiple instances where Pompeo is critical of the president.
The secretary of State has been among Trump’s most loyal allies, but Bolton wrote that Pompeo was exasperated over Trump's attempted nuclear diplomacy with North Korean leader Kim Jong UnKim Jong UnNorth Korea bans leather coats after Kim starts new fashion trend Belarus and Russia must resolve the migrant crisis on their own North Korea's Kim makes first public appearance in month MORE.
Bolton also writes that Pompeo took issue with the president's insistence on withdrawing U.S. forces from Afghanistan; and called it “horrific” when Trump abruptly told reporters the U.S. was withdrawing from a nuclear treaty with Russia.
“Even when Pompeo and I thought we had Trump decided on one candidate, we were often wrong,” Bolton wrote of the effort to find a replacement for Nikki HaleyNikki HaleyHaley has 'positive' meeting with Trump Haley hits the stump in South Carolina Ex-chief of staff says Trump won't run because he can't be seen as 'loser' MORE as ambassador to the United Nations. “As Pompeo said at the November G20 meeting, ‘You can’t leave him alone for a minute.’”
But the worst offender is Bolton. The book is stocked with recurring criticisms from the author of Trump, Mattis and Mnuchin in particular.
He described the president as “stunningly uninformed on how to run the White House, let alone the huge federal government.”
Bolton bemoans that Mnuchin “seemed as concerned with mitigating the impact of sanctions as with imposing them to begin with.”
The former national security adviser chastised the Treasury secretary for his confidence that a deal could be struck whether it was “with Turkish fraudsters or Chinese trade mandarins,” and he described the former Goldman Sachs executive as “eager” to participate in White House meetings and presidential trips.
Bolton targets Mattis throughout the book over what he describes as “obstructionism” in accomplishing his desired policy objectives such as withdrawing from treaties or taking a hard line against Iran. He also recounts telling Trump that the former Defense secretary “has a high opinion of his own opinion.”
“He may have established a reputation as a warrior-scholar for carrying with him on the battlefield a copy of Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations, but he was no debater,” Bolton wrote of Mattis.
The White House's response to the book has only served to further underscore the nastiness that Bolton illustrates. Press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Thursday posited that Bolton had taken the title of “most disliked man in America” from former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyCountering the ongoing Republican delusion How Biden should sell his infrastructure bill 'Finally, infrastructure week!': White House celebrates T bill MORE.
And Trump has unleashed on Bolton over the last 24 hours, deriding his former aide in interviews and on Twitter as a “wacko,” a “liar” and “washed up.”
“He wasn’t liked at all, and wasn’t respected very much,” Trump told The Wall Street Journal. “And as we got to know him, he was respected less and less. Personally, I thought he was crazy.”
Steve Clemons, Reid Wilson and Morgan Chalfant contributed.