US President Donald Trump and his defence team at his impeachment trial appear to be rattled following the disclosure by former National Security Adviser John Bolton that indeed there was a quid pro quo about US aid to Ukraine.
Excerpts from Bolton’s new book leaked Sunday, claimed that Trump told him that Ukraine aid was tied to an investigation of Joe Biden and his son — putting new pressure on Republican senators to approve additional witness testimony in the impeachment trial.
The explosive leak, which hits at the heart of Trump defence threatens to redefine the politics of the impeachment trial and bring new pressure on Republicans to call witnesses.
Bolton’s account in the draft of his book, as described by the New York Times, fortifies the two central arguments made by Democrats in the trial: that Trump used the power of his office for political gain and that the senators urgently need to hear from witnesses the president blocked from testifying during the House inquiry.
The disclosure comes as the president’s lawyers are preparing to deliver the meat of Trump’s defense when the trial reconvenes on Monday at 1 p.m, Bloomberg reports.
In an opening statement on Saturday, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone argued that House impeachment managers had failed to prove their case, in part, because they had no firsthand evidence in charging Trump with abuse of power. He said the real aim of Democrats was to overturn the 2016 election and interfere in November’s ballot.
Bolton, who left the administration in September in disputes with Trump over policy, has that direct knowledge. He’s one of four current or former administration officials Democrats want to call as witnesses and has said he would testify if subpoenaed. His lawyer said previously that he has information that hasn’t been part of the public record.
“There can be no doubt now that Mr. Bolton directly contradicts the heart of the president’s defense and therefore must be called as a witness at the impeachment trial of President Trump,” the seven House impeachment managers, led by Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, said in a joint statement Sunday night.
“The Democrat controlled House never even asked John Bolton to testify,” Trump tweeted Monday morning. “It is up to them, not up to the Senate!”
The tweet was not true.
Bolton refused to show up for a scheduled deposition in November before the House impeachment inquiry, but has said he would testify before the Senate trial if he was subpoenaed.
“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.”
“With that being said, the transcripts of my calls with President Zelensky are all the proof that is needed, in addition to the fact that President Zelensky & the Foreign Minister of Ukraine said there was no pressure and no problems,” he tweeted. “Additionally, I met with President Zelensky at the United Nations (Democrats said I never met) and released the military aid to Ukraine without any conditions or investigations – and far ahead of schedule. I also allowed Ukraine to purchase Javelin anti-tank missiles. My Administration has done far more than the previous Administration.”