Trump’s Ukraine Scheme Was Too Crazy Even For John Bolton

on April 9, 2018 in Washington, DC.
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 09: National Security Advisor John Bolton (R), listens to U.S. President Donald Trump as he speaks about the FBI raid at lawyer Michael Cohen's office, while receiving a briefing from senior mi... WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 09: National Security Advisor John Bolton (R), listens to U.S. President Donald Trump as he speaks about the FBI raid at lawyer Michael Cohen's office, while receiving a briefing from senior military leaders regarding Syria, in the Cabinet Room, on April 9, 2018 in Washington, DC. The FBI raided the office of Michael Cohen on Monday as part of the ongoing investigation into the president's administration. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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October 23, 2019 6:00 a.m.
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This was too much, even for John Bolton.

Trump’s former national security adviser makes multiple cameos in Ambassador William Taylor’s bombshell House testimony Tuesday.

And at nearly every point, the notorious hawk comes out swinging against President Trump’s scheme to withhold military aid to Ukraine unless until Kyiv became an active partner in conducting beneficial investigations for the President’s reelection bid.

Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) told reporters after hearing the testimony that it “confirmed” the need for Bolton to appear before congressional investigators examining whether Trump should be impeached.

In Taylor’s testimony, Bolton first appears at a July 10 meeting at the White House with Ukrainian officials.

Trump was absent but, in Taylor’s telling, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland linked the topic of “investigations” with a potential meeting between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and President Trump.

In so doing, Sondland “so irritated Ambassador Bolton that he abruptly ended the meeting,” according to Taylor.

The two people at the meeting who related this information to Taylor – National Security Council staffers Fiona Hill and Alexander Vindman – said that Bolton ended the meeting, and told Hill to “brief the lawyers.” Bolton then began to refer to the enterprise as a “drug deal,” and went on to oppose what would become the July 25 call between Trump and Zelensky out of a belief that it “would be a disaster.”

Bolton then disappears from the narrative, before returning in late August.

The then-national security adviser was on a trip to Eastern Europe, stopping in both Ukraine and Belarus. Bolton arrived in Ukraine on Aug. 27, holding meetings with Zelensky and top Ukrainian officials.

Public reporting about the trip – one of Bolton’s last as national security adviser – suggested that he focused mostly on Ukraine’s security situation with respect to Russia and to China.

Taylor wrote that the withholding of security assistance did not come up, in part because the Ukrainians at that time were unsure what was going on.

“Amazingly, news of the hold did not leak out until August 29,” Taylor wrote.

He added that he “was all too aware” of it, and met with Bolton privately, expressing “serious concern” about the withholding of aid.

Bolton told Taylor to send a first-person cable to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, expressing his concerns.

Taylor said that he sent the cable, but it’s not clear what happened after that. He wrote that Pompeo supposedly took the cable in to a White House meeting on “security assistance for Ukraine.”

Bolton reappears just days before his Sept. 10 firing.

Sondland and Trump held a phone call on Sept. 7, during which the President allegedly told the EU ambassador that while he “was not asking for a ‘quid pro quo,'” he wanted Zelensky to “go to a microphone and say he is opening investigations of Biden and 2016 election interference.”

Tim Morrison, an NSC official who was in touch with Taylor during the period, then said that he told Bolton “and NSC lawyers of this phone call.”

Bolton was fired on Sept. 10. On Sept. 11, the aid was released to Ukraine.

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