Washington: President Donald Trump told his national security adviser he wanted to maintain a freeze on military assistance to Ukraine until it aided political investigations into his Democratic rivals, according to a report in The New York Times. The newspaper said John Bolton’s description of his exchange with Trump appears in drafts of his forthcoming book.
The revelation challenges the defense offered up by Trump and his attorneys in his Senate impeachment trial and raises the stakes as the chamber decided this week whether to seek sworn testimony from Bolton and other witnesses.
Bolton, who acrimoniously left the White House a day before Trump ultimately released the Ukraine aid on 11 September, has already told lawmakers that he is willing to testify, despite the president’s order barring aides from cooperating in the probe. The White House did not respond to a request for comment Sunday night. Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, who has played a prominent role in the Ukraine affair, replied to a request for comment with a text: “I used to like and respect John and tell people they were wrong about how irresponsible he was. I was wrong.”
Democrats need at least four Republicans to vote with them to seek witness testimony. Those prospects looked unlikely in recent days and it’s unclear if the new revelations about Bolton’s book will sway any GOP senators. Democrats quickly sought to ramp up the pressure on their Republican counterparts. “John Bolton has the evidence,” tweeted Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. “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.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had no immediate comment, according to his office. The Associated Press has not confirmed the content of Bolton’s draft book. A person familiar with the matter told the AP the book had been submitted to the White House for pre-publication review, which is standard for the work of former officials with security clearances.