The Room Where It Happened | John R. Bolton

Summary of: The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir
By: John R. Bolton


Embark on an eye-opening journey into the chaos-filled White House during the Trump administration through John R. Bolton’s memoir, ‘The Room Where It Happened’. As a former national security adviser, Bolton shares striking anecdotes and revelations about Trump’s unusual approach to foreign policies and diplomacy. From the president’s lack of preparation during important meetings and ignorance on crucial global issues, to his overconfidence in personal relationships with foreign leaders, this book will unveil the tumultuous and unpredictable world of Donald Trump’s leadership.

Bolton’s Insider Revelations

John Bolton’s memoir containing insider nuggets of the Trump administration offered a scathing and revelatory account of the presidency. Although Trump sued to block the publication, the book’s details are no longer a shock to readers due to the spate of tell-all books from former Trump officials. The New Yorker refers to the book as indispensable, jaw-dropping, and specific while The Washington Post describes it as the most critical dissection of the president from an administration insider. Comedian Stephen Colbert recapped the initial reactions by stating that the revelations were worse than he initially imagined.

Bolton’s Explosive Revelations

John Bolton’s book reveals Trump’s lack of knowledge and chaotic leadership. Bolton details how Trump made decisions on a whim, without any research and how he was proud of his ignorance. Bolton also mentions that Trump believed he could run the executive branch and establish national security policies based on instinct and personal relationships with foreign leaders. The book also portrays how Trump loathed sharing the spotlight and how he was unable to replace Obama-era officials or craft new policies, even after two years of being in office. Bolton cites various examples, including a meeting with British Prime Minister Teresa May where Trump expressed surprise about the United Kingdom’s nuclear weapons and a 30th-anniversary event of Tiananmen Square massacre, where Trump asked, “Who cares about it?” The book provides an eye-opening account of Trump’s leadership style, showcasing the chaotic and unstructured nature of his administration.

Trump’s Subpar Negotiating Skills

In his book, John Bolton criticizes the negotiating skills of Donald Trump, characterizing him as amateurish and gullible. Among his examples, Bolton cites Trump’s meetings with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Russia’s Vladimir Putin, during which he quickly made concessions without preparation or a position of strength. Bolton also highlights Trump’s inconsistent views on Russia, which complicated matters for his team working on both cyber and non-cyber issues. The biggest bombshell from the Helsinki meeting, according to Bolton, was Trump contradicting US officials’ unanimous conclusion that Russia had meddled in the 2016 election and indicating that he believed Putin over his own intelligence community. Bolton strongly disapproves of this situation, which he viewed as a disastrous moment for Trump’s presidency.

Abandoning Allies

In December 2018, Trump told Turkish leader Erdogan that the US had defeated ISIS, and Turkey should take over peacekeeping in Syria. Bolton felt disbelief as this meant abandoning the Kurds, staunch US allies. Although against endless wars, Bolton believed that Trump had no strategy for withdrawing US forces and subsequently abandoning key regional allies. Bolton felt like he was “inside a pinball machine” due to Trump’s tendency to change his mind in response to inaccurate journalism.

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