Several anonymous sources have reportedly told The New York Times that a book manuscript by Ambassador John Bolton, the former National Security Advisor to President Trump, accuses Trump of tying the hold up of aid to Ukraine last year with his desire for investigations into the Bidens and interference by Ukraine in the 2016 election, something Trump has vehemently denied but has been impeached by the House and is on trial for in the Senate.
The Times reported on descriptions of the manuscript Sunday evening, as the President’s defense team prepares for day on two Monday of their rebuttal to the Democrat House Managers’ case against Trump. Bolton was blocked by Trump from testifying in the House impeachment inquiry on national security grounds of executive privilege, however Bolton has said he would testify in the Senate trial if he was issued a subpoena. Motions to allow witness testimony in the trail have been tabled until after the first stages of the trial are complete: Prosecution, defense and then questions from senators. The report by the Times is timed to influence the votes of Republicans to allow witnesses as the Democrats are all on record as being in favor.
The Times does not claim to have seen the manuscript, but is basing its report on anonymous sources who claim to have given The Times descriptions. There are no quotes from the manuscript.
President Trump told his national security adviser in August that he wanted to continue freezing $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine until officials there helped with investigations into Democrats including the Bidens, according to an unpublished manuscript by the former adviser, John R. Bolton.
The president’s statement as described by Mr. Bolton could undercut a key element of his impeachment defense: that the holdup in aid was separate from Mr. Trump’s requests that Ukraine announce investigations into his perceived enemies, including former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter Biden, who had worked for a Ukrainian energy firm while his father was in office.
Mr. Bolton’s explosive account of the matter at the center of Mr. Trump’s impeachment trial, the third in American history, was included in drafts of a manuscript he has circulated in recent weeks to close associates. He also sent a draft to the White House for a standard review process for some current and former administration officials who write books.
Multiple people described Mr. Bolton’s account of the Ukraine affair.
The book presents an outline of what Mr. Bolton might testify to if he is called as a witness in the Senate impeachment trial, the people said. The White House could use the pre-publication review process, which has no set time frame, to delay or even kill the book’s publication or omit key passages.
…Key to Mr. Bolton’s account about Ukraine is an exchange during a meeting in August with the president after Mr. Trump returned from vacation at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J. Mr. Bolton raised the $391 million in congressionally appropriated assistance to Ukraine for its war in the country’s east against Russian-backed separatists. Officials had frozen the aid, and a deadline was looming to begin sending it to Kyiv, Mr. Bolton noted.
He, Mr. Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper had collectively pressed the president about releasing the aid nearly a dozen times in the preceding weeks after lower-level officials who worked on Ukraine issues began complaining about the holdup, Mr. Bolton wrote. Mr. Trump had effectively rebuffed them, airing his longstanding grievances about Ukraine, which mixed legitimate efforts by some Ukrainians to back his Democratic 2016 opponent, Hillary Clinton, with unsupported accusations and outright conspiracy theories about the country, a key American ally.
…In his August 2019 discussion with Mr. Bolton, the president appeared focused on the theories Mr. Giuliani had shared with him, replying to Mr. Bolton’s question 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…
End excerpt. The entire Times article can be read at this link at MSN.com. It includes Bolton going after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Attorney General William Barr.
Democrats have responded to the report with renewed calls for Bolton’s testimony.
The Democrat House Managers issued a statement:
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), “John Bolton has the evidence. It’s up to four Senate Republicans to ensure that John Bolton, Mick Mulvaney, and the others with direct knowledge of President Trump’s actions testify in the Senate trial.”
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), “For months there just hasn’t been any question what happened. But Republicans hung on to the idea that if they kept Trump’s top people from testifying, they could plausibly deny he was behind it all.
The game is now up. Their coverup has fallen apart. BOLTON MUST TESTIFY.”
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), “Last month, I wrote in @nytimes that we need to hear from John Bolton—who shopped his testimony to book publishers instead of speaking with Congress—because he clearly has a lot to say. It’s undeniable now: Bolton must testify in Trump’s trial.”
UPDATE: Statement from Bolton aide Sarah Tinsley reported by many in the media, “Several weeks ago, the ambassador sent a hard copy of his draft manuscript to the White House for prepublication review by the National Security Council. The ambassador has not passed that manuscript to anyone else for review. Period.”
More from Tinsley, “Bolton spokeswoman says he did not leak his own manuscript to the NY Times — and had only submitted it for pre-review to the National Security Council.”
And, “The ambassador transmitted a hard-copy draft of his manuscript to the White House for pre-publication review by the National Security Council. The ambassador has not passed the manuscript to anyone else, only the NSC.”