Bolton: Trump ignored early warning signs of coronavirus pandemic

Former White House national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonSunday shows preview: Lawmakers to address alarming spike in coronavirus cases Trump administration planning pandemic office at the State Department: report Bolton book sells 780,000 copies in first week, set to surpass 1M copies printed MORE accused President TrumpDonald John TrumpProtesters tear down statue of Christopher Columbus in Baltimore 'Independence Day' star Bill Pullman urges Americans to wear a 'freedom mask' in July 4 PSA Protesters burn American flag outside White House after Trump's July Fourth address 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.