President Trump lashed out at his former national security adviser on Twitter late Sunday night after the New York Times reported John Bolton, in an initial draft of his upcoming book, recalled that Trump told him in August that he wanted $391 million in aid to Ukraine frozen until that country’s government launched investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
“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 president continued, “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. 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,” he added. “The Democrat controlled House never even asked John Bolton to testify. It is up to them, not up to the Senate!”
Trump’s tweets contained several false statements: Democrats never claimed that Trump did not meet Zelensky; Trump did not release the aid to Ukraine “far ahead of schedule”; and House investigators did ask Bolton to testify in their impeachment inquiry, though they chose not to subpoena him.
Trump’s response to the report comes as his defense team prepares for day two of its opening arguments in his impeachment trial after the Democratic House managers laid out their case last week charging the president with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress over his dealings with Ukraine.
Senate Republicans initially blocked new testimony from witnesses, including Bolton, who they say have firsthand knowledge of Trump’s requests for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate the Bidens and a debunked conspiracy theory involving the Democratic National Committee’s server.
Trump has repeatedly claimed the July 25, 2019, call in which he asked Zelensky for a “favor” was “perfect,” and that Zelensky’s assertion that he did not feel pressure is proof of his innocence.
“Americans know that a fair trial must include both the documents and witnesses blocked by the President — that starts with Mr. Bolton,” House impeachment managers said in a statement.
“The @NYTimes report suggests multiple top Trump Admin officials knew the facts and deliberately misled Congress and the American people,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer tweeted. “A massive White House cover-up. All we need is four Republican Senators to get the truth.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., one of Trump’s staunchest defenders in Congress, hinted that he would be open to Bolton’s testimony — on one condition.
“If there is a desire and decision by the Senate to call Democratic witnesses, then at a minimum the Senate should allow President @realDonaldTrump to call all relevant witnesses he has requested,” Graham tweeted.
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