John Bolton invited to testify in House impeachment inquiry

Bolton's name has emerged repeatedly during the testimony of other key figures being interviewed by House impeachment investigators.
Image: John Bolton
Then-national security adviser John Bolton, outside the White House in May. Brendan Smialowski / AFP - Getty Images file

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By Adam Edelman, Haley Talbot, Leigh Ann Caldwell and Geoff Bennett

Former national security adviser John Bolton has been invited to be interviewed next Thursday behind closed doors by House Democrats leading the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, according to three sources familiar with the matter.

Bolton, whose name has emerged repeatedly during the testimony of other key figures being interviewed, has not been issued a subpoena. His lawyer told NBC News later on Wednesday that Bolton is "not willing to appear voluntarily." If Bolton does testify, however, he would be the most prominent figure yet to give testimony in the inquiry.

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Testimony from Bolton — who was fired by Trump last month — could shed further light on alleged efforts by Trump to coerce Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

Other individuals who have been interviewed by House investigators in recent weeks discussed in their testimony how Bolton was disturbed by efforts by the Trump administration to get the Ukrainians to investigate Trump’s political opponents.

Former White House official Fiona Hill reportedly told Congress this month that Bolton was so disturbed by those efforts that he called it a "drug deal." Hill, the former top Russia and Europe expert in Trump’s White House, testified that Bolton told her over the summer that he wanted no part of the effort, which he said involved acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, a person in the room for Hill’s testimony told NBC News. Hill added that Bolton told her to report the situation to the top lawyer at the National Security Council. Bolton also was said to have referred to Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani as a "hand grenade."

And on Tuesday, Christopher Anderson, who was a special adviser to former special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, told impeachment investigators that Bolton had cautioned him that Giuliani "was a key voice with the president on Ukraine, which could be an obstacle to increased White House engagement."

Bolton’s former top deputy, Charles Kupperman, had been scheduled to appear for a deposition on Monday, but did not show up. The White House has sought to block his appearance and Kupperman filed a lawsuit last week asking a federal judge to rule on whether he must testify under a congressional subpoena. Kupperman’s attorney has said he will not testify until the judge issues a ruling.

The outcome — the judge is set to hear Kupperman’s complaint Thursday afternoon — could affect Bolton’s appearance.

Peter Alexander contributed.