Former national security adviser John Bolton has denied providing the New York Times with an excerpt of his upcoming book that revealed President Trump told him the provision of military aid to Ukraine was contingent on the opening of an investigation into Joe Biden.
Bolton released a statement Monday afternoon pushing back against accusations from Republicans, who questioned the timing of the Sunday Times report, which dropped just before Bolton’s yet unpublished book became available for pre-order. Bolton said neither he nor his publisher nor literary agent coordinated with the newspaper to increase the hype surrounding the book in order to drive sales.
“Ambassador John Bolton, Simon & Schuster, and Javelin Literary categorically state that there was absolutely no coordination with the New York Times or anyone else regarding the appearance of information about his book, THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENED, at online booksellers. Any assertion to the contrary is unfounded speculation,” Bolton said in a statement.
Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney suggested Monday that Bolton’s new allegations have “more to do with publicity than the truth.”
Trump’s legal team also downplayed the report of Bolton’s claims regarding aid to Ukraine, calling them “speculation.”
“We deal with transcript evidence. We deal with publicly available information. We do not deal with speculation, allegations that are not based on evidentiary standards at all,” said Jay Sekulow, Trump’s lead personal attorney for the Senate impeachment trial, which on Monday saw its second day of opening arguments by Trump’s defense team.
Trump himself also directly denied on Monday that he told Bolton the temporary freeze on aid to Ukraine was tied to investigations of his political opponents, saying in a tweet that Bolton “never complained about this at the time of his very public termination. If John Bolton said this, it was only to sell a book.”
Democrats have pushed for Bolton to testify at the impeachment trial while Republicans loyal to Trump have argued there is no need for additional witnesses who did not testify during the House phase of the impeachment process. Republican senators Mitt Romney of Utah and Susan Collins of Maine have said they will likely vote for Bolton to testify while other Republicans thought to be on te fence regarding witnesses, such as Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, and Cory Gardner of Colorado, have not announced how they will vote.