Chuck Ross on January 26, 2020
Former National Security Adviser John Bolton said in an unpublished manuscript of a forthcoming book that President Donald Trump wanted to maintain a freeze on military aid to Ukraine until officials there produced information related to Joe Biden and other political opponents, The New York Times reported.
Bolton said in the manuscript that he asked Trump about the stalled $391 million aid package during a conversation in August 2018, according to The NYT.
Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and numerous lawmakers had by then pressed the White House to unfreeze the aid, saying that Ukraine needed the money to help it stave off Russia.
Bolton, who resigned Sept. 10, 2019, reportedly wrote in the book draft that Trump was instead focused on theories regarding Biden and potential Ukrainian involvement in meddling in the 2016 election.
Trump told Bolton that “he preferred sending no assistance to Ukraine until officials had turned over all materials they had about the Russia investigation that related Mr. Biden and supporters of Mrs. Clinton in Ukraine,” The NYT reported.
Bolton’s claims seemingly undercut a key Trump defense at his impeachment trial, which is underway in the Senate. Trump and administration officials have asserted that he ordered the freeze on military assistance to Ukraine because of general concerns about corruption in the European nation.
Democrats have asserted that Trump withheld the aid in order to pressure Ukrainian leaders to open investigations into whether Ukrainian officials interfered in the 2016 election, as well as whether Biden, when he was vice president, pressuring Ukraine’s president to fire a prosecutor in order to stop an investigation into Burisma Holdings, where Hunter Biden was a director.
Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, worked with two Ukrainian-American businessmen beginning in 2018 to collect and disseminate the information on Biden.
Trump mentioned the Biden issue during a July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, according to a transcript released by the White House. Democrats assert that the transcript reveals that Trump improperly pressured Zelensky to investigate Biden. Trump has described the phone call as “perfect” and urged the public to read the transcript of his conversation with Zelensky.
Bolton’s lawyer, Charles Cooper, issued a statement following The NYT story saying the book manuscript was provided to the National Security Council for a pre-publication review on Dec. 30, 2019. Cooper did not address the substance of what The NYT reported from the manuscript, saying only that “information has been disclosed by persons other than those properly involved.”
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