Lighthizer denies Bolton claim that Trump asked Xi for election help
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on Wednesday denied a claim by former national security adviser John Bolton that President Trump asked Chinese President Xi Jinping for help winning the 2020 election.
“Absolutely untrue. Never happened. I was there. I have no recollection of that ever happening. I don’t believe it’s true. I don’t believe it ever happened,” Lighthizer said at a Senate Finance Committee hearing.
Less than an hour earlier, The Washington Post ran an excerpt from Bolton’s upcoming book, in which the former Trump administration official claims that Trump made the request for electoral help from Xi during a one-on-one meeting at the Group of 20 summit in Japan in June 2019.
Trump, Bolton wrote, turned the conversation to “China’s economic capability to affect the ongoing campaigns, pleading with Xi to ensure he’d win.”
“He stressed the importance of farmers, and increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat in the electoral outcome. I would print Trump’s exact words but the government’s prepublication review process has decided otherwise,” the excerpt in the Post read.
Lighthizer said he was at the meeting in question and disputed Bolton’s account.
Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), who asked Lighthizer for his account, said he hoped to verify whether Trump’s alleged comments came at the same meeting.
“I assume it’s the same meeting, and if it’s not, I assume we’ll find out because if it’s true, it shows how clear it is that the administration doesn’t really have any intention of actually solving our trade problems with China,” Menendez said.
Sen. Ron Wyden (Ore.), the committee’s top Democrat, said he would be sending Lighthizer a list of written questions on the matter to be answered within a week given the “disturbing” nature of the allegations in the report.