/Thursday briefing: John Bolton book tears into Trump

Thursday briefing: John Bolton book tears into Trump

Top story: ‘Obstruction of justice as a way of life’

Hello again. I’m Warren Murray and there is plenty here to chew on.

Donald Trump was unaware that the UK had nuclear weapons, according to his former national security adviser John Bolton, whose forthcoming book The Room Where it Happened has been released in excerpts to the media just as the president tries to block its publication. Trump pleaded with the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, to help him get re-elected; encouraged China’s concentration camps for more than a million Muslims – which have led to US sanctions – as exactly the right thing to do; and was willing to halt criminal investigations to “give personal favours to dictators he liked”, Bolton writes.

Bolton describes a pattern of corruption in which Trump routinely attempts to use the leverage of US power on other countries to his personal ends. “The pattern looked like obstruction of justice as a way of life, which we couldn’t accept,” Bolton writes, adding that he took his concerns to the attorney general, William Barr. Trump refused to issue a statement commemorating the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, saying “That was 15 years ago” (it was the 30th anniversary). Bolton’s book quotes Trump as saying that invading Venezuela would be “cool” and that it was “really part of the United States”. It says the summit diplomacy with the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un, was intended as spectacle, with Trump happy to “sign a substance-free communique, have his press conference to declare victory, and then get out of town”. Mike Pompeo mocked the president behind his back, slipping Bolton a note saying: “He is so full of shit.”

The Guardian’s world affairs editor, Julian Borger, points out: “Bolton does not emerge from his time in office or the ensuing months as an icon of public virtue. If he had agreed to testify before the House impeachment hearings, he would have raised the alarm over the presidential abuses he now says so disturbed him, and just maybe something could have been done about it. It is hard to see his refusal as anything other than to keep the best material for his $2m book deal.” Unsurprisingly Trump has said on social media that the book was “made up of lies & fake stories” and called Bolton a “disgruntled boring fool who only wanted to go to war”.

Rhodes statue review – Late yesterday the governing body of Oriel College at Oxford voted in tacit support of removing a statue of the Cecil Rhodes but deferred the matter to an independent commission of inquiry. The pub chain and brewer Greene King and the insurance market Lloyd’s of London both revealed last night that in light of their historic connections to the slave trade, they will be making reparations via charitable donations, company practices and investment in creating opportunities and inclusion for BAME groups.

A black nurse who holds the British Empire Medal is taking civil action against the Met after she was hauled from her car, searched and held in a cell for 18 hours despite having done nothing wrong.

‘You’re scaring the life out of me’: bodycam footage shows arrest of black nurse in London – video

Neomi Bennett – who featured on Dragon’s Den after inventing a device for putting on deep-vein thrombosis stockings – is taking civil action against the Met. Her conviction for obstructing the police has already been overturned. In the US, the Atlanta officer who fatally shot a fleeing Rayshard Brooks in the back is to face 11 charges including felony murder. Brooks, who was black, posed no threat when he was shot, prosecutors say.

After Covid, a climate catastrophe? – The world has only six months to prevent a post-lockdown “carbon rebound” that would overwhelm efforts to stave off climate catastrophe, an International Energy Agency expert warns. Governments are planning to spend $9tn (£7.2tn) globally in the next few months to fire up their economies, and Fatih Birol, IEA executive director, says far too little of this is being channelled to carbon-cutting industries. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, more than half a trillion dollars worldwide – $509bn – will be poured straight into high-carbon industries such as airlines. “The next three years will determine the course of the next 30 years and beyond,” Birol told the Guardian. In Britain, the Lib Dems have unveiled proposals to invest £150bn in green projects over three years, calling the coronavirus recovery “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to both tackle potential mass unemployment and reshape the economy on environmental lines.

A fresh coronavirus case has been reported in New Zealand as officials scramble to contain the fallout from Tuesday’s embarrassing revelations of a quarantine breach and reports of people disappearing after leaving isolation early. Police said six people absconded from managed isolation after being granted compassionate leave. (In yesterday’s email briefing we said in error that two new cases were Britons – in fact they were New Zealanders returning from Britain.) And Beijing’s cluster of new cases may have begun a month earlier than first thought, partly due to asymptomatic infections, according to the director of China’s infectious diseases authority.

Keep tabs on our global live blog for the latest coronavirus news.

There’s more in our Coronavirus Extra section further down … and here’s where you can find all our coverage of the outbreak – from breaking news to factchecks and advice.

Phone trawling by police criticised – Police in England and Wales are extracting “excessive amounts of personal data” from the mobile phones of victims and witnesses, which can discourage the public from reporting crime, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has warned. It says individuals’ mobile phones “hold the most intimate and private details of our everyday lives”. Rape investigations are being systematically dropped after victims refuse to hand over their phones for analysis, an investigation by the campaign group Big Brother Watch suggests. Freedom of information requests revealed that about one in five complainants declined to submit to a “digital strip search” and every such case was closed. Campaigners are calling for change to this “all or nothing” approach. The National Police Chiefs’ Council argues police have a duty to pursue all reasonable lines of enquiry, meet evidence disclosure obligations and prepare a strong case for prosecutors.

British air power – Construction is beginning on the world’s largest liquid air battery, which will store renewable electricity and reduce carbon emissions from fossil-fuel power plants. The facility developed by Highview Power is due to be operational in 2022 and will be able to power up to 200,000 homes for five hours, and store energy for many weeks. The project near Manchester will use spare green energy to compress air into a liquid and store it. When demand is higher the liquid air is released back into a gas, powering a turbine that puts the green energy back into the grid.

Coronavirus Extra

The pandemic has devastated global tourism, and many will say good riddance to overcrowded cities and rubbish-strewn natural wonders. Is there any way to reinvent an industry that does so much damage?

Odion Edgal stocks up at Scope in Walthamstow after running out of books during lockdown

Odion Edgal stocks up at Scope in Walthamstow after running out of books during lockdown. Photograph: David Levene/The Guardian

England’s charity shops have embraced the new normal – after all, many of us have missed the likes of Scope just as much as Primark or John Lewis. Sam Wollaston spend a day with happily returning customers, donors and staff.

Today in Focus podcast: Stranded at sea

Guardian US reporter Erin McCormick describes why thousands of crew are still stuck on cruise ships after coronavirus bought the industry to a standstill in March. Will Lees describes how it took him 82 days to get back to Canada while Perry, who hasn’t had a salary since March, is still stuck and doesn’t know when he will get home to his family in Mauritius.

Today in Focus

Stranded at sea

Lunchtime read: Bravery of Noor Inayat Khan

She was the daughter of an Indian Sufi mystic, who gave her life as a British agent fighting with the French resistance and for the cause of freedom. Now, 76 years after 29-year-old Noor Inayat Khan was captured by the Gestapo and executed in the Dachau concentration camp, a previously unpublished account reveals that it was her love of the colour blue that betrayed her to the enemy.

Noor Inayat-Khan, who became the first female radio operator to be sent to Nazi-occupied France.

Noor Inayat-Khan, who became the first female radio operator to be sent to Nazi-occupied France. Photograph: Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC)/PA


Kevin De Bruyne ran the show and David Luiz’s disastrous appearance off the bench contributed to Manchester City’s 3-0 win over Arsenal as the Premier League made a largely successful return. But the makers of the goal-line technology issued an apology after the earlier 0-0 draw between Aston Villa and Sheffield United descended into farce when a goal was disallowed because cameras failed to spot the ball crossing the line. The 2020 US Open will start behind closed doors on 31 August but there is still no guarantee the best tennis players in the world will be there. Winner of two titles at Flushing Meadows, Dylan Alcott, has called the decision to omit wheelchair tennis from this year’s coronavirus-compromised grand slam “disgusting discrimination”.

Rory McIlroy has risked rancour on the fairways by insisting he has no sympathy for European players who have opted not to earn world ranking points during the PGA Tour’s restart. The world 100m champion Christian Coleman has been told that going on a Christmas shopping trip is no defence for missing a drugs test under World Anti-Doping Agency rules. On the same day that the Los Angeles Chargers head coach said teams would be “crazy” not to look at Colin Kaepernick in the run-up to the new NFL season, Donald Trump said he would support the quarterback returning to the league. And the pilot of the helicopter that crashed in thick fog, killing Kobe Bryant and seven other passengers, reported at the time he was climbing when he was actually descending.


Shares have fallen in the Asia-Pacific region as markets eased off following their big rally. Sydney’s S&P/ASX 200 skidded 1% after the government said unemployment had surpassed 7% and would have been above 9% if the figure included people laid off and not officially looking for work. At time of writing the pound is worth $1.255 and €1.155 while the FTSE is trending lower by about 50 points.

The papers

“Rhodes must fall – Oxford college backs campaign to remove statue” – the main story today on the Guardian’s front page, which also features “Schools to hire private tutors to aid pupils” – the programme covering England will be government-funded. Mastery of understatement is displayed by the Times which calls trump “uninformed” after he asked if Britain was a nuclear power. That’s across the top of the front – the lead story is “Doctors demand schools reopen” as paediatricians warn a generation’s life chances are being scarred.

Guardian front page, Thursday 18 June 2020

Guardian front page, Thursday 18 June 2020.

The Mirror demands: “Get our children back to school” while the Telegraph puts a royal seal on the issue: “Charles – young face devastation from virus”. “VITAMIN D NEW HOPE IN THE WAR ON CORONA” – between the all-caps and the squeeze on the Mail headline, the Briefing wondered for a moment where this “Vitamind” substance might be purchased. Here’s what it is really about.

The FT has “US scuppers global digital tax plan and fires warning to Europe”. The i and the Express cover the potential end of triple-lock pension increases. The Metro reports on “PM’s £1m paint job” – the red, white and blue makeover for his official jet – and ties it in with a picture of his car, also in need of some rattle-can therapy after it sustained a tail-end shunt while leaving parliament.

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