Democrats ratcheted up their demands that former national security adviser John Bolton testify in the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump after The New York Times published a report Sunday that said Trump told Bolton he wished to withhold military aid in order to pressure Ukraine into helping with politically motivated investigations.
In his upcoming book, Bolton writes that Trump directly and explicitly told him in August that he wished to withhold the $391 in military aid to Ukraine that Congress had appropriated until officials there turned over documents related to the 2016 election and former Vice President Joe Biden, the Times reported, citing people who had seen the manuscript.
Trump's impeachment trial on articles of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress is centered on that withholding of aid and his refusal to allow current and former officials, such as Bolton, to testify in the impeachment inquiry.
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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 by the Associated Press with a text: "I used to like and respect John and tell people they were wrong about how irresponsible he was. I was wrong."
On Saturday, Trump's legal team opened its defense of the president in the Senate trial. Bolton's claim would appear to undercut two of their key arguments: that Trump's order to delay the funds was not about the investigations and that no one has directly tied him to any such scheme.
"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 Democratic House impeachment managers said in a joint statement responding to the report.
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During the House impeachment inquiry, Bolton said he would not appear as a witness unless directed to by a judge. But earlier this month, he said he was "prepared to testify" if the Senate issued him a subpoena.
The impeachment managers said the Senate should "insist" on Bolton being subpoenaed following the report, specifically to provide notes and documents.
"The Senate trial must seek the full truth and Mr. Bolton has vital information to provide. There is no defensible reason to wait until his book is published, when the information he has to offer is critical to the most important decision Senators must now make - whether to convict the President of impeachable offenses," the statement reads.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer responded to the report by calling on Senate Republicans to take action.
"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," he added, referring to the number of Republicans needed to vote with Democrats to approve Senate subpoenas.
John Bolton has the evidence.
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.https://t.co/JbazBaYdRU
- Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) January 26, 2020
Last week, Trump told reporters at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that he was concerned about Bolton testifying or making public statements because it could present a "national security problem."
"He knows some of my thoughts. He knows what I think about leaders. What happens if he reveals what I think about a certain leader and it's not very positive?"
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Trump added that he and Bolton, who left the administration in September, did not part "on the best of terms" and implied that could influence what Bolton said.
The Times report says the White House was given a copy of the manuscript to review, which is standard practice for officials who write about their time in a presidential administration.
"The ambassador's manuscript was transmitted to the White House in hard copy several weeks ago for pre-publication review by the NSC. The ambassador has not passed the draft manuscript to anyone else. Period," Sarah Tinsley, the director of Bolton's political action committee, told AP.
Charles Cooper, an attorney who represents Bolton, said in a statement that the pre-publication review process had been "corrupted and that information has been disclosed by persons other than those properly involved in reviewing the manuscript."
Democrats said the fact that administration officials were aware of what Bolton says in the book and yet sought to block his testimony was evidence of a "cover-up."
"During our impeachment inquiry, the President blocked our request for Mr. Bolton's testimony. Now we see why," the House impeachment managers said. "The President knows how devastating his testimony would be, and, according to the report, the White House has had a draft of his manuscript for review. President Trump's cover-up must come to an end."
"The @NYTimes report suggests multiple top Trump Admin officials knew the facts and deliberately misled Congress and the American people. A massive White House cover-up," Schumer said.
Contributing: Christal Hayes, The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: John Bolton: Trump tied Ukraine funds to probe, report says