Posts tagged with "Former National Security Adviser John Bolton"

Trump tied Ukraine military aid to political inquiries on Bidens, Bolton book says

January 28, 2020

Someone has leaked the manuscript of former National Security Adviser John Bolton’s new tell-all book—and the revelations are damaging to President Donald Trump’s defense, as the Senate impeachment inquiry goes into its second week.

Indeed, according to the unpublished manuscript, the president told Bolton in August—just about one month before the adviser’s resignation—that “he wanted to continue freezing $391 million in military assistance to Ukraine until officials there helped with investigations into Democrats including the Bidens,” The New York Times reports.

The president’s statement, as described by Bolton, makes it crystal clear that any release of military aid was contingent on Ukraine announcing investigations into Trump’s political enemies—including former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, who had worked for a Ukrainian energy firm while his father was in office.

According to the Times, Bolton’s explosive account of the matter at the center of Trump’s impeachment trial, the third in American history, was included in drafts of a manuscript he has circulated in recent weeks to close associates. He also sent a draft to the White House for a standard review process for some current and former administration officials who write books.

Multiple people told the news outlet about Bolton’s personal, written account of the Ukraine affair. The book presents an outline of what the former advsier might testify to, if he is called as a witness in the Senate impeachment trial, the people said.

Or not: The White House could use the pre-publication review process, which has no set time frame, to delay or even kill the book’s publication or omit key passages.

Just after midnight on Monday, January 27, the president denied telling Bolton that the aid was tied to investigations. “If John Bolton said this, it was only to sell a book,” he wrote on Twitter, reprising his argument that the Ukrainians themselves felt “no pressure” and falsely asserting that the aid was released ahead of schedule.

Over dozens of pages, Bolton described how the Ukraine affair unfolded over several months until he departed the White House in September. He described not only the president’s private disparagement of Ukraine but also new details about senior cabinet officials who have publicly tried to sidestep involvement.

For example, the Times reported, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo acknowledged privately that there was no basis to claims by the president’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani that the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine was corrupt.

As for Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, he was present for at least one phone call durng which the president and Giuliani discussed the ambassador, Bolton wrote. Mulvaney has told associates he would always step away when the president spoke with his lawyer to protect their attorney-client privilege.

Bolton’s lawyer blamed the White House for the disclosure of the book’s contents, the Times said. “It is clear, regrettably, from The New York Times article published today that the pre-publication review process has been corrupted and that information has been disclosed by persons other than those properly involved in reviewing the manuscript,” the lawyer, Charles Cooper, said Sunday night.

The White House has ordered Bolton and other key officials with firsthand knowledge of the president’s dealings not to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry. Bolton said in a statement this month that he would testify if subpoenaed.

Research contact: @nytimes

Don’t count Schumer out: He plans to force votes on evidence, testimony that will ‘squeeze’ Republicans

January 14, 2020

While, in the run-up to the impeachment trial, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has appeared to be unflinching in his support of President Donald Trump, he should not underestimate his political rival, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Politico reports.

Indeed, although McConnell already has locked up enough Republican votes to ignore demands for a bipartisan framework for the trial, his Democratic counterpart is preparing a counteroffensive. Schumer plans to force a series of votes designed to squeeze vulnerable Republicans and harm them on the campaign trail if they side with Trump, the news outlet says.

Democrats argue the half-dozen at-risk GOP senators will need some daylight between them and Trump to get reelected. And if they vote against Schumer’s motions to hear new evidence and witness testimony, they’ll be seen as Trump sycophants — undermining their bids and boosting Schumer’s odds of becoming majority leader.

Support for obtaining new documents at the trial is “even stronger than we thought, with large numbers of Republicans supporting it,” Schumer said in an interview with Politico. “And when you go against what the American people feel strongly about, on an issue they’re paying attention to, it’s not a good idea.”

Public surveys in key swing states back up Democrats’ claims. Polling from Hart Research found that 63% of voters in Arizona, Colorado, Maine and North Carolina would react unfavorably if their senator voted against calling witnesses or subpoenaing documents during the Senate impeachment trial.

Another poll from Morning Consult found 57% of voters believe the Senate should call additional witnesses. That includes 71% of Democrats, 56% of Independents, and 40% of Republicans.

What’s more, the president’s former National Security Adviser John Bolton’s offer to testify has given some momentum to Democrats’ calls for witnesses and documents about the White House’s decision to withhold military aid to Ukraine. Democrats also want to hear from Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, Office of Management and Budget official Michael Duffey, and Mulvaney Adviser Robert Blair.

“If the Republicans ram through process that ultimately leads to no witnesses, I think they do it at their own peril,” Senator Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey), a former chairman of the party’s campaign arm, told Politico. “Some of these members: They have an audience of one. But I think they forgot that there’s a broader audience that they’re going to have to face at election time.”

“The procedural votes may be more important than the vote on removal or acquittal. Because what will matter more to voters than where a senator lands is how he or she got there,” said Geoff Garin, a Democratic pollster for Hart Research. “So if Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) or any of the other Republicans vote for acquittal and the takeaway for voters is this is a political or partisan vote on an important issue, that will have a long lasting impact.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said that she will release the articles of impeachment to McConnell this week.

Research contact: @politico

If subpoenaed, Bolton says he would be willing to testify in Senate impeachment trial

January 7, 2020

Former National Security Adviser John Bolton said Monday that he would testify in a Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, if subpoenaed, The Hill reported.

Bolton, who had resisted the the Trump Administration’s effort to squeeze Ukraine for political help—calling the president’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani “a hand grenade who’s going to blow everyone up”—had hinted since October that he might cooperate, if prevailed upon to do so through legal channels.

“The House has concluded its Constitutional responsibility by adopting Articles of Impeachment related to the Ukraine matter. It now falls to the Senate to fulfill its Constitutional obligation to try impeachments, and it does not appear possible that a final judicial resolution of the still-unanswered Constitutional questions can be obtained before the Senate acts,” Bolton, who was ousted by Trump in September, said in a statement.

“I have had to resolve the serious competing issues as best I could, based on careful consideration and study. I have concluded that, if the Senate issues a subpoena for my testimony, I am prepared to testify,” Bolton said. 

Bolton had previously said that he needed a judge to resolve whether a senior adviser to Trump could be compelled to testify, and as a result did not appear before the House as requested in connection with the impeachment inquiry, The Hill clarified.

His former deputy, Charles Kupperman, had filed a lawsuit asking a federal judge to decide whether he should obey a congressional subpoena for his testimony but the case was declared moot last month. Bolton was never subpoenaed after his lawyers made clear he would not appear without one.

Bolton said that, now, because there will not be a judicial resolution to a case on the legal question brought by his former deputy before the Senate trial concludes, he is prepared to testify before the Senate if subpoenaed.

The GOP-controlled Senate is unlikely to call Bolton to testify, however, The Hill said.

Research contact: @thehill

John Bolton bad-mouths Trump for ‘bluffing’ about stopping North Korea’s nuclear ambitions

December 25, 2019

In his sharpest criticism yet of his old workplace—the White House; not Fox News—former National Security Adviser John Bolton suggested this week that the Trump Administration is bluffing about stopping North Korea’s nuclear ambitions—and soon might need to admit publicly that its policy has failed badly, according to an exclusive interview by Axios’ Jonathon Swan posted on December 22.

Indeed, according to Swan, “Bolton told me in an interview that he does not think the administration “really means it” when President Donald Trump and top officials vow to stop North Korea from having deliverable nuclear weapons—”or it would be pursuing a different course.”

Why now? Bolton, who “resigned” from the White House last September, is speaking out ahead of an end-of-year timetable. If Kim Jong-un follows through on his threatened Christmas provocation, Bolton says the White House should do something “that would be very unusual” for this administration—concede that they got it wrong on North Korea.

“The idea that we are somehow exerting maximum pressure on North Korea is just, unfortunately, not true,” Bolton told Axios. For example, he suggested, the U.S. Navy could start to squeeze Kim Jong-un by intercepting oil that is illegally being transferred to North Korea at sea.

If Kim thumbs his nose at America, Bolton told Swan, he hopes the administration will say: “We’ve tried. The policy’s failed. We’re going to go back now and make it clear that in a variety of steps, together with our allies, when we say it’s unacceptable, we’re going to demonstrate we will not accept it.”

Bolton, who has advocated for a more aggressive North Korea strategy, also criticized Trump for saying earlier this year that Kim’s short-range missile tests don’t bother him.

“When the president says, ‘Well, I’m not worried about short-range missiles,’ he’s saying, ‘I’m not worried about the potential risk to American troops deployed in the region or our treaty allies, South Korea and Japan.'”

The bottom line, according to Bolton:  “Time is on the side of the proliferator,” he said. “The more time there is, the more time there is to develop, test and refine both the nuclear component and the ballistic missile component of the program.”

Research contact: @axios