Bolton describes forthcoming memoir as his 'best recollection'

'All of the notes that I took were destroyed before I left the government, Bolton told NPR

Last Updated:
June 22, 2020 - 7:03pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

John Bolton says his forthcoming, tell-all book represents his "best recollection" of what he heard inside the White House as President Trump's national security adviser.

Bolton's remark is in response to a question during a recent National Public Radio interview about whether he used notes as the source material for "The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir," on sale Tuesday.

Bolton, who lasted just five months in the post after disagreeing with Trump over policy issues, never directly answered the question from NPR interviewer Steve Inskeep, saying only that his notes were destroyed prior to his departure.

Inskeep pointed out that Bolton's "credibility has been questioned" and noted that the book contains many specific dates and times, then pressed Bolton on whether he used "detailed contemporaneous notes" while authoring the work.

"Well, look, this, the book is my best recollection. It has gone through some editing because of prepublication review process, but it’s a nearly 500-page book and there’s a lot in there. I’d like to see what ultimately people specifically disagree with and what their characterization is," Bolton said according to an interview transcript

"And again, I’m sure this is something that others may want to write on, too. Ultimately, historians will be the judge of a lot of this. One day when the archives of the Chinese government are open to the people. They had as many observers on their side of the table as we did. They heard what the president said. I think they understood it," Bolton continued.

Inskeep also asked: "What I wonder is, at the end of the day, were you taking notes, taking home your notes, writing your recollections in real time, and then referring back to those notes when you wrote this book a year or two later?"

"All of the notes that I took were destroyed before I left the government," Bolton responded. 

"So this is your recollection in every case?" Inskeep queried. 

"I’m just going to leave it at that," Bolton said.

Bolton voted for Trump during the 2016 election, but said that he will not vote for either Trump or Joe Biden during the 2020 election.

"I don’t think he’s really competent to be president" Bolton said about his former boss. "It’s put me in a very difficult dilemma. I voted for him in 2016 because I thought given the choice between him and Hillary Clinton, that that was the choice to make. But having seen him in operation for 17 months, I just cannot vote for him again," he said.

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