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Jan 31 2020

No Substitute

Yeah, where’s the Presser Bolton?

You’re a Coward and a Traitor.

Trump Told Bolton to Help His Ukraine Pressure Campaign, Book Says
By Maggie Haberman and Michael S. Schmidt, The New York Times
Jan. 31, 2020

More than two months before he asked Ukraine’s president to investigate his political opponents, President Trump directed John R. Bolton, then his national security adviser, to help with his pressure campaign to extract damaging information on Democrats from Ukrainian officials, according to an unpublished manuscript by Mr. Bolton.

Mr. Trump gave the instruction, Mr. Bolton wrote, during an Oval Office conversation in early May that included the acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, the president’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani and the White House counsel, Pat A. Cipollone, who is now leading the president’s impeachment defense.

Mr. Trump told Mr. Bolton to call Volodymyr Zelensky, who had recently won election as president of Ukraine, to ensure Mr. Zelensky would meet with Mr. Giuliani, who was planning a trip to Ukraine to discuss the investigations that the president sought, in Mr. Bolton’s account. Mr. Bolton never made the call, he wrote.

The previously undisclosed directive that Mr. Bolton describes would be the earliest known instance of Mr. Trump seeking to harness the power of the United States government to advance his pressure campaign against Ukraine, as he later did on the July call with Mr. Zelensky that triggered a whistle-blower complaint and impeachment proceedings. House Democrats have accused him of abusing his authority and are arguing their case before senators in the impeachment trial of Mr. Trump, whose lawyers have said he did nothing wrong.

The account in Mr. Bolton’s manuscript portrays the most senior White House advisers as early witnesses in the effort that they have sought to distance the president from. And disclosure of the meeting underscores the kind of information Democrats were looking for in seeking testimony from his top advisers in their impeachment investigation, including Mr. Bolton and Mr. Mulvaney, only to be blocked by the White House.

In a statement after this article was published, Mr. Trump denied the discussion that Mr. Bolton described.

“I never instructed John Bolton to set up a meeting for Rudy Giuliani, one of the greatest corruption fighters in America and by far the greatest mayor in the history of N.Y.C., to meet with President Zelensky,” Mr. Trump said. “That meeting never happened.”

The conversation that Mr. Bolton describes was separate from another one that Mr. Bolton wrote about, where he observed Mr. Mulvaney and Mr. Trump talking on the phone with Mr. Giuliani about Ukraine matters. Mr. Mulvaney has told associates he would leave the room when Mr. Trump and Mr. Giuliani were talking to preserve their attorney-client privilege, and his lawyer said earlier this week that Mr. Mulvaney was never in meetings with Mr. Giuliani and has “no recollection” of the first discussion.

Around the time of the May discussion, The Times revealed Mr. Giuliani’s efforts and his planned trip to Ukraine. Mr. Giuliani said at the time that Mr. Trump was aware of his efforts in Ukraine, but said nothing else about any involvement of Mr. Trump or other members of the administration. The disclosure created consternation in the White House and Mr. Giuliani canceled his trip.

A day after the Times article was published, Mr. Giuliani wrote a letter to Mr. Zelensky, saying he was representing Mr. Trump as a “private citizen” and, with Mr. Trump’s “knowledge and consent,” hoped to arrange a meeting with Mr. Zelensky in the ensuing days. That letter was among the evidence admitted during the House impeachment inquiry.