National security advisor, John Bolton, right, attends a meeting with President Donald Trump and President of Chile, Sebastian Piñera in the Oval Office of the White House on September 28, 2018 in Washington, DC.
Oliver Contreras | The Washington Post | Getty Images
President Donald Trump vented rage Monday on Twitter, denying his ex-national security advisor John Bolton’s reported claim that the president withheld military aid to Ukraine in order to secure investigation into his political opponents.
The New York Times reported Sunday that Bolton, in his upcoming book “The Room Where It Happened,” wrote that Trump personally tied a nearly $400 million aid package to Kyiv to an investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter. CNBC has not seen a copy of Bolton’s manuscript.
But Trump flatly denied the account from Bolton, who left the White House in September amid a public dispute with the president over whether he resigned or was fired.
“I NEVER told John Bolton that the aid to Ukraine was tied to investigations into Democrats, including the Bidens,” Trump tweeted early Monday morning. “In fact, he never complained about this at the time of his very public termination.”
“If John Bolton said this, it was only to sell a book,” Trump claimed.
The Times’ report on Bolton’s book came amid Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate.
Democratic House managers, led by House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., laid out their case last week for Trump’s conviction and removal from office on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, both related to his Ukraine dealings. Trump’s legal team began their defense on Saturday and are set Monday to continue arguing that the president did nothing wrong.
Bolton had been asked to testify during the House impeachment inquiry, but he refused to appear before the Democrat-led committees leading the impeachment investigation.He was not subpoenaed then; the House Intelligence panel said in a Nov. 7 statement that “we have no interest in allowing the Administration to play rope-a-dope with us in the courts for months.”
In early January, however, Bolton said that he would testify in the Senate trial if he was subpoenaed by the Senate.
Trump falsely tweeted Monday that “The Democrat controlled House never even asked John Bolton to testify.”
The Republican-majority Senate will vote on whether to include additional witnesses and documents after both sides have concluded their opening statements.
It’s unclear how likely the chamber is to approve that step; at the start of the trial, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., proposed amendments to the trial rules to issue subpoenas for key witnesses, including Bolton, but each was voted down.
“I think the timing of all of this is very very suspect” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a Fox News interview earlier Monday. “We stand by exactly what we’ve been saying all along.”
Bolton’s attorney said in a statement Sunday that “It is clear, regrettably, from The New York Times article published today that the prepublication review process has been corrupted and that information has been disclosed by persons other than those properly involved in reviewing the manuscript.”
Trump, meanwhile, asserted in subsequent tweets Monday that the memorandum of his July 25 call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy supported his position. Zelenskiy in that call was asked by Trump to “look into” the Bidens and a debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine, not Russia, meddled in the 2016 election.
Trump also contrasted his administration with former President Barack Obama’s by noting that Zelenskiy’s government received lethal aid, and bought Javelin anti-tank missiles from the U.S.