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White House trade adviser Peter Navarro fired back at John Bolton on Sunday, seeking to rubbish a key claim in the former national security adviser’s bombshell new book, that Donald Trump asked Chinese President Xi Jinping for help in winning re-election.

“I never heard that,” Navarro said, echoing remarks by US trade representative Robert Lighthizer. “I was in the room.”

Bolton’s book, The Room Where It Happened, is based on notes taken in a series of rooms with the president, during Bolton’s spell as Trump’s third national security adviser from April 2018 to September 2019.

A judge in Washington on Saturday declined the administration’s attempt to block publication, but had harsh words for Bolton’s conduct and treatment of sensitive material.

Trump indicated that a civil suit to seize all profits from the book will continue, and hinted at criminal prosecution.

One policy hawk attacking another, Navarro said in a combative appearance on CNN’s State of the Union: “That guy should be turning in his seersucker suit for a jumpsuit.”

Bolton writes that direct quotes from the conversation with Xi were redacted from his book to satisfy its national security review. But Vanity Fair has since reported that during a dinner at a G20 summit in Japan in 2019, Trump told Xi: “Make sure I win. I will probably win anyway, so don’t hurt my farms … Buy a lot of soybeans and wheat and make sure we win.”

Navarro insisted the explosive allegation was “just silly”, given how tough he said Trump has been on China over its unfair trade practices.

Bolton claims Trump’s request was evidence of impeachable conduct well beyond the approaches to Ukraine, for political dirt on Joe Biden, which eventually landed the president in court in the Senate.

Also on CNN, House judiciary chair Jerrold Nadler, who steered the impeachment inquiry, was asked to respond to Bolton’s charge that Democrats failed to build a case sufficient to remove Trump because they kept their focus on Ukraine.

“The fact is,” Nadler said, “the president could’ve been impeached on other grounds too, such as obstruction of justice in the Russia investigation. We chose to try to keep it simple.”

Bolton refused to testify in the House, then said he would in the Senate. Republicans controlling that chamber refused to call witnesses before acquitting the president.

Bolton, Nadler said, “is certainly no one to talk. He refused to testify before the House. And the Senate, of course, was never going to call him, because the Senate Republicans were not interested in any evidence. As I said, they were corrupt in that respect.”