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Bolton: Trump ignored early warning signs of coronavirus pandemic

Former White House national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonPence, other GOP officials expected to skip Trump send-off NSA places former GOP political operative in top lawyer position after Pentagon chief's reported order After insurrection: The national security implications MORE accused President TrumpDonald TrumpMcCarthy says he told Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene he disagreed with her impeachment articles against Biden Biden, Trudeau agree to meet next month Trump planned to oust acting AG to overturn Georgia election results: report MORE of ignoring early warning signs of the coronavirus pandemic due to a potential impact it could have had on a trade deal with China. 

"I think there is an empty chair in the Oval Office, because the president did not want to hear bad news about Xi Jinping, his friend,” Bolton told CNN's Wolf Blitzer Wednesday on "The Situation Room,” referring to the Chinese president. 

“He did not want to hear bad news about the cover-up of the virus in China, or its potential effect on the China trade deal that he wants so much. And he didn't want to hear about the potential impact of a pandemic on the American economy and its effect on his reelection,” Bolton added. “Turning a blind eye to all these early signs I think hampered the country's ability to deal with this, and continues to do so.” 

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Bolton’s interview with CNN followed the release of his book, titled “The Room Where It Happened,” about his time at the Trump White House. 

Bolton left the White House in September 2019, months before news broke about the virus which originated in Wuhan. 

Asked if he had confidence in Trump’s handling of the virus, Bolton told CNN “I do not.” 

"I am afraid that the erratic nature of the policies as they've evolved since January when the experts really began to sense that this problem might be out there has characterized our response throughout. And I'm worried that it continues to be the pattern that the President follows,” he said. “It's not part of a comprehensive strategy. I think in a country the size of the United States, state and local authorities should have a big role, but at the federal level, the response has not been consistent.” 

An official with the White House was not immediately available for comment. 

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In Bolton’s book, he also alleges the president solicited Jinping’s assistance in reelection. 

Bolton has been criticized by both sides over the release of his book. The Trump administration attempted to block the book from being released, while many Democrats have criticized him for releasing the memoir after refusing to testify as part of the House impeachment probe last year. 

A federal judge denied the administration’s request to block the book from being published.