The release of former National Security Advisor John Bolton’s book The Room Where It Happened on June 23rd could not come at a worse time for US President Donald Trump’s administration. Trump already has a plethora of issues to deal with and this new novel has the potential to cause a PR nightmare for the US President.
The former National Security Advisor’s book makes a series of damning accusations against the Trump administration. Firstly, it states that the US President wanted help from China to win November’s election, and that Trump told Chinese President Xi Jinping that building internment camps to imprison the Uighurs and other minorities was ‘the right thing to do.’
Bolton’s Revelations are Embarrassing
The Room Where It Happened also specifies that Trump offered personal favors to dictators like Jinping and that the Democrats were right to proceed with impeaching the US President, even if they approached it in the wrong way.
To add further embarrassment to the Trump administration, Bolton states that the US President wanted more than two terms and that he did not know that the UK has nuclear power, or that Finland is separate from Russia.
Trump has made reforming NATO a central part of his presidency, but the former National Security Advisor reveals that the US President wanted to quit the alliance at one point, and that he believed invading Venezuela would be ‘cool.’
To add to the US President’s woes, Trump’s niece Mary has also written a book that criticizes her uncle.
Is the Book’s Publication ‘Unacceptable’?
Arguably, the PR nightmare caused by Bolton’s book has already started for the US President. Trump has made many wild remarks in the past such as “I could be the most popular person in Europe” during a cabinet meeting on January 2nd, 2019. The former National Security Advisor’s revelations could reinforce Trump’s image as a man who is prone to making ludicrous comments in many voters’ eyes. Furthermore, his reputation could be damaged.
Constitutional experts have already criticized the Justice Department’s emergency order seeking to block the book’s release on national security grounds. The White House filed another lawsuit earlier in the week against Bolton on similar grounds. If the Justice Department fails to prevent the text from being published, this will further humiliate the Trump administration, especially when the US President is already trailing behind his Democratic rival, Joe Biden, by 9 points in the opinion polls.
Equally, the White House has an opportunity to prevent The Room Where It Happened’s release from becoming a PR disaster. Trump’s Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a recent press conference that the book’s publication is ‘unacceptable’ due to its classified information.
Trump Could Turn This into a PR Opportunity
The Republicans could also spin this as the work of an angry employee trying to profit from his former boss, and if that is the line the Trump administration pursues, then the US President could solidify his base further, especially if they argue that this is an establishment coup intended to oust Trump from office.
Trump may be trailing behind in the opinion polls, but that meant nothing during the 2016 election as he still beat Hillary Clinton. The Public Religion Research Institute found that Trump’s favorability rating dropped by 16 points among 1,003 adults. But as Linda Feldmann of the Christian Science Monitor argues, some of the polling errors that failed to predict the current US President’s victory in 2016 still exist, and that it will be the ‘shy, non-college educated Trump voters’ who will determine this election, too.
The Trump administration still has an opportunity to twist the narrative from this crisis to its advantage, but Bolton’s book still has the potential to inflict untold damage on the US President, and that will matter to some voters more than others. Either way, this election looks like it is going to be a close one.