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Trump asked if Finland was part of Russia, new book claims

The behind-the-scenes book was written by Trump's former National Security Adviser John Bolton.

Sauli Niinistö och Donald Trump sitter i gula fåtöljer.
Finnish President Sauli Niinistö and US President Donald Trump at a White House press briefing in October 2019. Image: Ville Hupa/Yle

US President Donald Trump once asked his chief of staff whether Finland was a part of Russia, according to an upcoming book by former National Security Adviser John Bolton, the New York Times reported.

The newspaper has published excerpts from an acquired manuscript of the yet-to-be-published behind-the-scenes tome, titled 'The Room Where It Happened'. The book reportedly reveals Trump had difficulty with basic geography and little knowledge regarding foreign policy matters.

Bolton worked for the Trump administration from April 2018 until September 2019, and is known as a "fastidious note taker," according to the paper.

The book is scheduled to be released on 23 June, but the Trump administration is trying to stop its distribution on grounds that it includes classified information. It is not known whether the nation's Justice Department will block its publication, according to Forbes magazine.

The answer to Trump's question is that Finland is not part of Russia, but an independent country.

Russia has occupied Finland several times over the course of history, but the last time it invaded in 1939 when it was the Soviet Union, the Nordic country managed to retain its independence, following the 105-day Winter War.

Story continues after photo

John Bolton katsoo Donald Trumpia
US President Donald Trump speaks as National security advisor John Bolton listens during a meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, in the Oval Office of the White House on May 22, 2018 in Washington DC. Image: AOP

"Do more raking like in Finland"

The recounted incident was not the first suggestion concerning Trump's alleged ignorance regarding Finland.

Nearly two years ago, as large areas of California were engulfed in devastating wildfires, Trump said that the western US state should "do more raking like in Finland," in order to avoid such conflagrations.

"You look at other countries where they do things differently, and it’s a whole different story. I was with the president of Finland and he said, 'we have a forest nation'. They spend a lot of time on raking and cleaning and they don’t have any problems," Trump told reporters in the devastated town of Paradise.

Critics, however, were quick to point out that Finland and California have very different climates.

At the time, Finnish President Sauli Niinistö said he believed Trump was referring to an encounter at an event in Paris the two leaders were both attending, marking the WWI armistice centenary.

"I did indeed meet president Trump and we had a conversation about forest fire prevention in Finland," he explained.

Trump's comment about the forest raking habits of Finns set social media ablaze.

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