Early Tuesday morning, the Justice Department pushed back on the New York Times’ report on former National Security Adviser John Bolton’s unpublished manuscript, which contained an explosive account of Bolton’s conversation with Attorney General Bill Barr.
According to the Times, Bolton wrote that he had told Barr he was worried that President Donald Trump was granting personal favors for Chinese President Xi Jinping and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, two authoritarian leaders whom Trump has often praised.
Barr then reportedly expressed concern over how Trump’s friendliness with the two leaders gave the impression that he was exercising “undue influence,” in the Times’ words, on the DOJ’s probes into businesses in Turkey and China.
Department of Justice spokesperson Kerri Kupec claimed in a statement that while the DOJ has not read the manuscript, the Times had “grossly mischaracterized” the conversation between the two Trump officials.
“There was no discussion of ‘personal favors’ or ‘undue influence’ on investigations, nor did Attorney General Barr state that the President’s conversations with foreign leaders was improper,” Kupec said.
“If this is truly what Mr. Bolton has written, then it seems he is attributing to Attorney General Barr his own views–views with which Attorney General Bill Barr does not agree,” she continued.