Daily News Roundup

June 18, 2020

(Reuters: Joshua Roberts)



US President Donald Trump sought the help of Chinese President Xi Jinping to win re-election, his former national security adviser John Bolton has claimed in an explosive new book.

The request came in a closed-door meeting in June 2019, according to Mr Bolton who left the White House on acrimonious terms later that year, according to overseas wire services and the ABC.

He also alleged Mr Trump had expressed a willingness to halt criminal investigations to give “personal favours to dictators he liked”.

The excerpts from The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir were published in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and the Washington Post ahead of next week’s publication.

The White House has yet to comment on the latest revelations.

The US Government has taken legal action to prevent its former ambassador to the United Nations from publishing his memoirs, arguing they contained classified information and would compromise national security.

Mr Trump told reporters at the White House earlier this week Mr Bolton had “broken the law” by sharing their private conversations, and would face “criminal problems”.

The revelations come just over four months after the Republican-controlled Senate voted to acquit Mr Trump on impeachment charges stemming from his dealings with Ukraine.

They were brought by the Democratic-led House of Representatives after his decision to withhold military assistance to Ukraine until it agreed to investigate former vice-president Joe Biden.

It was only the third time in US history that a president has been impeached, but Mr Bolton chose not to accept an invitation to give evidence in the trial.

The book’s allegations provide new ammunition to Mr Biden,Trump’s Democratic rival in  the upcoming Presidential election

They include behind-the-scenes accounts of Mr Trump’s conversations with Mr Xi where he raised the topic of winning a second term.

“Trump then, stunningly, turned the conversation to the coming US presidential election, 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.”

Mr Bolton added that it was among countless conversations that “formed a pattern of fundamentally unacceptable behaviour that eroded the very legitimacy of the presidency”.

In another excerpt, Mr Trump said invading Venezuela would be “cool” and that it was “really part of the United States”.

The US Government has said it does not favour using force to topple Venezuela’s socialist President, Nicolas Maduro.

Mr Bolton was fired by Mr Trump in September 2019 after 17 months in the White House job.


The Labor Party has been plunged into fresh turmoil after explosive texts from a Labor MP connected with former powerbroker Adem Somyurek were leaked to the media, reports the ABC.

A document has been circulated to some media outlets with dozens of personal texts from Federal Labor MP Anthony Byrne.

Mr Byrne’s office was used to film covert footage of former Victorian Minister Adem Somyurek which later appeared on a 60 Minutes episode alleging widespread branch staking in the Victorian ALP.

It is not known how the camera came to be in Mr Byrne’s office but he has since issued a statement indicating he is cooperating with authorities investigating the allegations against Mr Somyurek. There is no suggestion Mr Byrne was involved in the alleged branch stacking.

The fallout has claimed three ministerial scalps in the Victorian Government and triggered an extraordinary intervention in the Victorian ALP by Labor’s National Executive.

In the texts, Mr Byrne reportedly savages prominent Labor figures, accusing Bill Shorten of disloyalty, discussing the “decapitation” of a colleague, and repeatedly uses graphic language to attack several other Labor figures.

Mr Byrne also reportedly wishes for the political death of Victorian Premier Dan Andrews and calls another Federal Labor MP a “drunk”.

He reportedly said of one Labor figure: “I want to see his head cut off”, before describing how he would desecrate the corpse.


China has raised its emergency warning level and cancelled more than half of all flights to Beijing amid s new coronavirus outbreak in the capital, which officials have described as “extremely grave”

It was a sharp pullback for the nation that declared victory over COVID-19 in March and a message to the rest of the world about how dogged the virus really is.

New infections spiked in India, Iran and US states including Florida, Texas and Arizona as authorities struggled to balance restarting economic activity without accelerating the pandemic.

European nations, which embarked on a wide-scale reopening this week, were fearful as the Americas struggled to contain the first wave of the pandemic and Asian nations like China and South Korea reported new outbreaks.

Chinese officials described the situation in Beijing as “extremely grave.”

“This has truly rung an alarm bell for us,” Party Secretary Cai Qi told a meeting of Beijing’s Communist Party Standing Committee.

The latest Beijing outbreak started at a major whole sale food market, Xinfadi, where a “mutant strand” of coronavirus was reportedly found on a chopping block used to cut up salmon.

After a push that began June 14, the city expects to have tested 700,000 people by the end of the day, said Zhang Qiang, a Beijing party official.

The party’s Global Times said 1,255 flights to and from the capital’s two major airports were scrapped by Wednesday morning, about two-thirds of those scheduled.

Since the virus emerged in China late last year and spread worldwide, there have been more than 8.1 million confirmed cases and at least 443,000 deaths, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University.

Experts say the true toll is much higher, due to the many who died without being tested and other factors.

The US has the most infections and deaths in the world, with a toll that neared 117,000 on Wednesday, surpassing the number of Americans who died in World War I.

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