In September, former National Security Adviser John Bolton told the Democratic chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee to look into the recall of former Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, the chairman, Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), said Wednesday.
Yovanovitch was ultimately recalled last spring after a months-long smear campaign led by Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and his associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman.
After Bolton’s tenure as National Security Adviser ended, Engel said in his statement, he reached out to Bolton to talk to him, in order to aid the committee’s foreign policy oversight efforts.
During the call, on Sept. 23, “Ambassador Bolton suggested to me — unprompted — that the committee look into the recall of Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch,” Engel said.
“He strongly implied that something improper had occurred around her removal as our top diplomat in Kyiv.”
Engel said he informed his investigative colleagues on the Foreign Affairs committee, as well as on the Intelligence and Oversight committees, but said nothing publicly at the time about what Bolton had told him.
“President Trump is wrong that John Bolton didn’t say anything about the Trump-Ukraine Scandal at the time the President fired him,” the chairman said in his statement, linking to one of the President’s recent tweets that asserted as much. “He said something to me.”
Democrats have called for Bolton to testify in the ongoing impeachment trial after the New York Times reported that a manuscript from Bolton recalled a conversation he had with the President about the military aid Trump had withheld from Ukraine.
According to reports about Bolton’s manuscript, Trump told the then-national security adviser that he preferred to withhold the aid until Ukraine provided the investigative materials that the President, as well as Giuliani and others, had long pressured the country’s leadership for. That pressure campaign is now at the center of the President’s impeachment trial.
In September, Congress became aware of a whistleblower’s complaint regarding Trump’s actions. On Sept. 24, the day after Engel says he spoke to Bolton, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced an impeachment probe of the president.