Lawyers for President Trump on Monday sought to lessen the impact of the news of former national security adviser John Bolton’s firsthand account of a conversation in which the president linked U.S. military aid to Ukraine with an announcement of an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
“There was no linkage between investigations and security assistance or a meeting on the July 25 call. The Ukrainians said there was no quid pro quo and they felt no pressure,” deputy White House counsel Mike Purpura said in his presentation on the second day of the president’s defense in his Senate trial.
Bolton’s bombshell, which he makes in a forthcoming book titled “The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir” about his year and a half serving in the Trump administration, has increased pressure on Senate Republicans to allow new witness testimony, including from Bolton himself.
Yet Purpura essentially argued that Bolton’s accusation should be ignored.
“The House managers’ record reflects that anyone who spoke with the president said that the president made clear that there was no linkage,” Purpura said. “The security assistance flowed and the presidential meeting [took place], all without any announcement of investigations, and President Trump has enhanced America’s support for Ukraine in his three years in office.”
Purpura also portrayed the president’s decision to withhold nearly $400 million in aid allocated by Congress to Ukraine as unsurprising, saying, “The pause in the Ukraine security assistance program was far from unusual or out of character for President Trump.”
House Democrats impeached Trump based on their case that he used the congressionally appropriated aid as an inducement to Ukraine to announce an investigation that would be damaging to one of his chief political rivals. House managers making the case for witness testimony have argued that Bolton and acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney need to be questioned in the Senate trial because the White House blocked them from testifying before the House.
On Saturday, as the president’s lawyers began their defense, Purpura turned on its head Trump’s strategy of blocking witnesses from appearing before the House, arguing that the absence of evidence from officials with direct knowledge of the president’s actions proved his innocence.
“Not a single witness testified that the president himself said that there was any connection between any investigations and security assistance, a presidential meeting or anything else,” Purpura said.
The revelations made in Bolton’s book blew a hole in that claim.
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