President Donald Trump issued a strong denial of claims reportedly made by former National Security Advisor John Bolton in a new book detailing the president’s alleged abuse of power in his dealings with Ukraine.
Citing a source with direct knowledge of Bolton’s book manuscript, The New York Times reported Sunday that the president had told his national security advisor he wanted to continue withholding $391 million of military aid until Ukraine helped with investigations into Democrats, including possible 2020 rival Joe Biden.
But the president dismissed Bolton’s apparent revelation. “I NEVER told John Bolton that the aid to Ukraine was tied to investigations into Democrats, including the Bidens,” Trump wrote on Twitter.
“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,” he added.
Trump fired Bolton in September after he disagreed with the president on multiple foreign policy decisions.
Democrats want Bolton to testify in the president’s ongoing Senate impeachment trial because his senior position would likely have given him insights into Trump’s alleged attempt to coerce the Ukrainian government.
Bolton has said he would be willing to testify to senators if called to do so, but GOP leaders and the White House are currently resisting pressure from Democrats to allow witnesses at the trial.
Trump said last week he did not think that key officials including Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo or Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney would be allowed to testify because of national security concerns.
On Sunday, Trump said the transcripts of his calls with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky “are all the proof that is needed” that he did nothing wrong.
Trump has repeatedly urged critics to “read the transcripts,” but the White House has only released summaries of the conversations rather than verbatim transcripts.
The president also wrote that he “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.”
FactCheck.org has reported that Trump’s claim of releasing the aid “far ahead of schedule” is false. The freeze lasted around two months and was lifted on September 11.
By that time, Trump was already aware of the anonymous whistleblower complaint from an intelligence official raising concerns about the president’s apparent effort to leverage the freeze for an investigation into Biden.