Former national security adviser John Bolton defended in an interview with ABC News on Sunday his decision not to testify at President Trump's impeachment inquiry, claiming it wouldn't have changed the outcome.

Why it matters: Bolton told ABC News that Trump "directly linked the provision of that [security] assistance with the investigation" into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden in Ukraine — the central allegation that saw him impeached in the House and later acquitted in the Senate. No official that testified was a direct witness to Trump explicitly tying aid to the investigations.

What he's saying: "I didn't think the Democrats had the wit or the political understanding or the reach to change what, for them, was an exercise in arousing their own base, so that they could say, 'We impeached Donald Trump.' To impeach him on the ground of Ukraine, knowing full well — they could see it, they knew it from their own behavior," Bolton said in the interview with ABC's Martha Raddatz.

"They pushed the Republicans in the House into unanimous opposition to their view. And they essentially did the same thing to Republicans in the Senate. This was a partisan play. It was not a Constitutional process. I judge that to be almost as irregular as what they were accusing Trump of doing.
"The Democrats can pursue whatever policy they want. They don't dictate to me how best to bring this to the attention of the American people. You can agree or disagree with the way I tried to do it, but I don't think anybody is required to engage in futile activity to satisfy the Democratic congressional leadership."
— Excerpt from Bolton's interview with ABC News

Flashback: In January, Trump tweeted: "I NEVER told John Bolton that the aid to Ukraine was tied to investigations into Democrats, including the Bidens. 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."

Go deeper: Trump whacked from within by John Bolton

Editor's note: This article has been updated with more details from Bolton's interview and further context.

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Sep 30, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Biden rebukes Trump for attacking Hunter Biden's drug problem

President Trump attacked Joe Biden's son Hunter at the first presidential debate on Tuesday for being discharged from the military after failing a drug test for cocaine. Biden responded by saying that his son had a drug problem like many people and that he's proud of him for overcoming it.

Why it matters: Trump launched several attacks on Hunter Biden as part of a strategy to force the Democratic nominee to lose his cool. Biden largely avoided taking the bait, and at one point turned to the audience and said, "This is not about my family or his family. It's about your family. American people. He doesn't want to talk about what you need."

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

President Trump has been practicing with flashcards and prepping with former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie before Tuesday's presidential debate.

Behind the scenes: Top aides tell Axios he's been testing his attacks on the campaign trail for weeks, seeing what ignites his crowds or falls flat. One of the biggest themes Trump plans to drive home is his "tough guy" persona, which advisers see as an advantage with voters in key states.

Trump and Biden clash over COVID: "It is what it is because you are who you are"

Joe Biden attacked President Trump at the presidential debate on Tuesday for his response to the coronavirus pandemic, accusing him of panicking and failing to prepare for the crisis when he was warned about it in February.

The big picture: "It is what it is because you are who you are," Biden said, alluding to an answer Trump gave in an interview with "Axios on HBO" when asked about the 150,000+ death toll from the coronavirus. Trump responded by claiming that Biden would not have shut down travel from China in the early days of the pandemic, and he defended his administration's mass production of ventilators and protective equipment.