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Indeed, according to the unpublished manuscript, the president told Bolton in August—just about one month before the adviser’s resignation—that “he wanted to continue freezing $391 million in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

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