Trump disputes Bolton bombshell book, tweets he 'NEVER' linked Biden investigation, Ukraine aid

The reported revelation in the ex-national security adviser's unpublished manuscript is spurring calls for him to testify at the Senate trial.
Image: National Security Advisor John Bolton adjusts his glasses as U.S. President Donald Trump speaks while meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in the Oval Office
National security adviser John Bolton, in the Oval Office, months before he left the administration in September.Joshua Roberts / Reuters file

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By Allan Smith

President Donald Trump tweeted on Monday that he "NEVER" told former national security adviser John Bolton that the hold on nearly $400 million in military aid was tied to investigations of Democrats, a claim Bolton has reportedly made in an upcoming book.

"I NEVER told John Bolton that the aid to Ukraine was tied to investigations into Democrats, including the Bidens," Trump wrote. "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."

"The Democrat controlled House never even asked John Bolton to testify," Trump added, although the House did ask Bolton to testify but did not subpoena him. "It is up to them, not up to the Senate!"

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Later on Monday, Trump told reporters, "Well, I haven't seen a manuscript. But I can tell you nothing was ever said to John Bolton, but I have not seen a manuscript. I guess he's writing a book, I have not seen it."

According to a manuscript of Bolton's book reported on by The New York Times and not seen by NBC News, Trump told Bolton in August that nearly $400 million in aid to Ukraine would not be released until it provided all of the information it had in connection to the investigations of Democrats that the president sought. One month earlier, Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, his son Hunter Biden and Democrats.

Trump and allies have said the investigations and aid were not linked, though acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said late last year that the aid was linked to an investigation of so-called Ukrainian electoral interference in 2016. Mulvaney later walked back those remarks.

The Times report cited multiple sources familiar with Bolton's account and the contents of his manuscript were described as roughly how the former national security adviser would testify before the Senate if called. At least four Republicans need to vote in favor of additional witness testimony for that to happen.

Speaking on "Fox & Friends," White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham called Bolton's reported assertions "just not true."

"I think the timing of all of this is very, very suspect," she said. "It's very clear the president did nothing wrong. And then suddenly, this manuscript has magically appeared in the hands of The New York Times making very, very big claims."

In the yet-to-be-published book, Bolton reportedly writes that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed a belief that Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani was acting on behalf of other private clients in Ukraine. Bolton also said he expressed concerns about Giuliani's involvement in a shadow Ukraine policy to Attorney General William Barr after Trump's July phone call.

Giuliani tweeted Monday in response to the Bolton book, tagging Fox Business host Lou Dobbs and saying there was "no way in the world" Trump would tie investigations and aid in a conversation with Bolton.

"It’s a shame that a man will sacrifice his integrity to make a few bucks on a book," Giuliani added. "No wonder he accomplished so little as national security adviser."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., tweeted that the "refusal of the Senate to call for" Bolton, "other relevant witnesses and documents is now even more indefensible."

Trump has suggested he would block Bolton's testimony. Speaking to reporters at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland last week, Trump said Bolton's testimony would present "a national security problem."