Trump denies telling Bolton Ukraine aid was tied to investigations
President Trump on Monday denied that he told former national security adviser John Bolton that releasing security aid for Ukraine was dependent on the country investigating his political rivals, following a report that Bolton describes such an exchange in his forthcoming book.
The president denied wrongdoing in a trio of tweets just after midnight addressing the reported contents of Bolton’s manuscript, accusing his former top aide of making the allegation to promote his new memoir.
“I NEVER told John Bolton that the aid to Ukraine was tied to investigations into Democrats, including the Bidens,” Trump tweeted. “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 was impeached last month for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress after Democrats alleged he withheld security aid and a White House meeting for Ukraine to pressure the country to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and a conspiracy theory related to the 2016 election.
The president on Monday pointed to his administration providing anti-tank Javelin missiles to Ukraine and an eventual meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at the United Nations.
He also claimed he released the military aid to Ukraine “without any conditions or investigations – and far ahead of schedule.” However, the aid was only released after news reports were published describing the freeze, and not all of the $391 million in assistance was distributed before the end of the fiscal year.
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. With that being said, the…
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 26, 2020
The New York Times reported Sunday evening that Bolton wrote in the manuscript of his upcoming book, titled “The Room Where It Happened,” that Trump said during an August meeting that he wanted to continue a freeze on the nearly $400 million in security aid for Ukraine until the government there agreed to investigate Biden and other Democrats.
The revelation in the book directly contradicts the White House’s insistence that the president did not explicitly connect the security aid and investigations.
An attorney representing Bolton said he delivered the manuscript to the White House on Dec. 30 to be reviewed for classified information, a process he said had been “corrupted.” The attorney stopped short of confirming the contents of the Times’s report.
The bombshell report came in the middle of Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate, where lawmakers later this week will face a pivotal vote on whether to subpoena witnesses. The manuscript provided fresh fodder for Democrats who have clamored for Bolton to testify.
“There is no defensible reason to wait until his book is published, when the information he has to offer is critical to the most important decision Senators must now make — whether to convict the President of impeachable offenses,” the seven House impeachment managers who presented their case against Trump last week said in a statement.
The former national security adviser has said he has relevant information to the ongoing impeachment proceedings and that he would comply with a Senate subpoena to testify.
Trump has already said he would seek to invoke executive privilege to block aspects of Bolton’s testimony.
Bolton was ousted last September following a roughly year-and-a-half stint as Trump’s national security adviser. He clashed at times with other White House officials and reportedly had disagreements with Trump on key foreign policy matters related to Iran and North Korea prior to his departure.
Trump has previously downplayed concerns about what Bolton might tell lawmakers, claiming his former top aide on national security matters would not know about the allegations against him.