Jan 31, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Bolton says in new book that Trump asked him to assist Ukraine pressure

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Former national security adviser John Bolton says in a manuscript of his forthcoming book that President Trump asked him in early May to ensure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky would meet with Rudy Giuliani, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: If verified, Bolton's account marks the earliest known point that Trump asked his subordinates to begin to coordinate a push Ukraine to investigate the president's political rivals, including former Vice President Joe Biden and his family.

  • Bolton, who writes that he did not follow the order, says that Giuliani, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and White House counsel Pat Cipollone were present for the directive. Cipollone is currently leading Trump's impeachment defense in the Senate.
  • The development "underscores the kind of information Democrats were looking for in seeking testimony from his top advisers in their impeachment investigation, including Mr. Bolton and Mr. Mulvaney, only to be blocked by the White House," the Times writes.

What they're saying:

  • Trump denied Bolton's claim in a statement to the Times: "I never instructed John Bolton to set up a meeting for Rudy Giuliani, one of the greatest corruption fighters in America and by far the greatest mayor in the history of N.Y.C., to meet with President Zelensky. ... That meeting never happened."
  • In an interview with the Times, Giuliani called the account "absolutely, categorically untrue" and said Cipollone and Mulvaney were never involved in Ukraine-linked meetings.
  • Bolton and a representative for Mulvaney did not respond to the Times' request for comment.

Go deeper: Trump headed for fast acquittal

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Bolton indicates more Ukraine details if book prevails over WH "censorship"

Former national security adviser John Bolton on stage at Duke University on Monday. Photo: Melissa Sue Gerrits/Getty Images

Former national security adviser John Bolton said during a talk at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, he hopes his new book is "not suppressed" by the White House, according to journalists present in the room.

This is an effort to write history and I did it the best I can. We'll have to see what comes out of the censorship."
— JohnBolton's comments, per Bloomberg and the New York Times

Republicans fear "floodgates" if Bolton testifies

Photo: Yuri Oreshkin/TASS via Getty Images

There may be enough new pressure on Senate Republicans to allow witnesses at President Trump's impeachment trial, after the leak from a forthcoming book by former national security adviser John Bolton that contradicts what the White House has been telling the country.

Why it matters: This is a dramatic, 11th-hour inflection point for the trial, with an eyewitness rebuttal to Trump's claim that he never tied the hold-up of Ukrainian aid to investigations into Joe Biden.

Go deeperArrowJan 27, 2020

John Kelly: Impeachment without witnesses "seems like a half trial"

Former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly said Friday that the Senate impeachment proceedings for President Trump seem "like a half trial" without witnesses, according to NJ.com.

Context: Kelly's statement comes on the same day the New York Times detailed a portion of former national security adviser John Bolton's unpublished book in which he reportedly writes that Trump asked Bolton to ensure that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky would meet with Rudy Giuliani. Kelly described Bolton as a "copious note taker" and "an honest guy and an honorable guy."