US President Donald Trump sought help from Chinese President, Xi Jinping to win re-election, ex-National Security Adviser John Bolton’s new book says.
Mr Bolton says Mr Trump wanted China to buy agricultural produce from US farmers, according to details of the forthcoming book previewed by US media.
He also says Mr Trump “remained stunningly uninformed on how to run the White House”.
The Trump administration is trying to block the book from hitting shelves.
Speaking to Fox News, Mr Trump said of Mr Bolton: “He broke the law. This is highly classified information and he did not have approval.”
“He was a washed up guy,” the president added. “I gave him a chance.”
John Bolton joined the White House in April 2018 and left in September the following year, saying he had decided to quit as national security adviser. President Trump, however, said he had fired Mr Bolton because he disagreed “strongly” with him.
He is known as a foreign policy hardliner and also served in the administration of President George W Bush. As national security adviser he was the top counsellor to the US president on security matters at home and abroad.
Mr Bolton’s 577-page tome, The Room Where It Happened, is due to go on sale on 23 June.
But on Wednesday night, the Department of Justice sought an emergency order from a judge to stop the book’s release.
The publisher, Simon & Schuster, said in a statement: “Tonight’s filing by the government is a frivolous, politically motivated exercise in futility.”
It said hundreds of thousands of copies of the book have already been distributed around the world and the injunction would accomplish nothing.
Mr Trump’s Democratic challenger in this November’s election, Joe Biden, said in a statement about the book: “If these accounts are true, it’s not only morally repugnant, it’s a violation of Donald Trump’s sacred duty to the American people.”
What does Bolton allege about the meeting with Xi?
The allegations refer to a meeting between President Trump and President Xi at the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, in June last year.
“Trump, stunningly, turned the conversation to the coming US presidential election [in 2020], alluding to China’s economic capability and pleading with Xi to ensure he’d win,” Mr Bolton wrote.
“He stressed the importance of farmers and increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat in the electoral outcome.”
Farmers make up a key voting bloc and largely supported Mr Trump in the 2016 election.
Speaking on Wednesday evening, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer disputed Mr Bolton’s account, saying the request for help with re-election “never happened”.
Mr Bolton also mentions an earlier conversation at the summit’s opening dinner, in which they discussed the building of camps in China’s western Xinjiang region.
Mr Trump said the construction should go ahead as it was “exactly the right thing to do”.
China has detained about a million Uighurs and other ethnic minorities in the camps for punishment and indoctrination.
The Trump administration has been publicly critical of China’s treatment of Uighurs, and on Wednesday the president signed legislation authorising US sanctions against Chinese officials responsible for the repression of Muslims in Xinjiang province.
China denies mistreating Uighurs and attacked the US move, calling it malicious and threatening countermeasures.