WASHINGTON – John Bolton, President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, has created a buzz in Washington with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle responding to new revelations reported Wednesday from his upcoming memoir.
Democrats continued to express dismay towards Bolton for refusing to testify during the House impeachment proceedings but publishing a book that appears to address much of what he would have been asked about by Congress.
Bolton only agreed to testify during the Senate trial when he knew it was unlikely Republicans would call him forward.
Republicans, meanwhile, have attacked his credibility and say his testimony wouldn’t have changed much.
Bolton’s reportedly writes in “The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir” that his former boss’ attempted to coerce Ukraine into investigating former Vice President Joe Biden, a political rival who has become the presumptive Democratic nominee, wasn’t his only potential foreign misstep.
That pressure campaign on Ukraine served as the basis for the president’s impeachment in the House last year. Democrats pushed for Bolton to testify before the Senate but ultimately lost that effort and Trump was acquitted without new witnesses being called.
According to one of the reported key excerpts, Trump turned to Chinese President Xi Jinping during a meeting last year and asked for a favor: China should increase its purchase of American-grown farm products because aiding American farmers would help him win the upcoming 2020 election.
Reaction to the newly released excerpts came from all sides.
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who served as the lead House impeachment manager in Trump’s trial, wrote “Bolton may be an author, but he’s no patriot,” and expressed his frustration that many of Bolton’s staff testified, but he refused “and said he’d sue if subpoenaed.”
“They had a lot to lose and showed real courage,” Schiff tweeted about the witnesses who did testify in front of the House. He continued that Bolton “saved it for a book.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who asked that Republican colleagues call for witnesses during the Senate trial, tweeted, “It was clear then and could not be any clearer now: the vote to convict and remove Donald Trump from office was absolutely the right vote.”
“The revelations in Bolton’s book make Senate Republicans’ craven actions on impeachment look even worse—and history will judge them for it,” he concluded.
Rep. Eliot L. Engel, D-N.Y., chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, released a statement, saying if Bolton’s accounts are “accurate, this was another extraordinary abuse of American foreign and national security policy.
He said the “House will continue to look for answers wherever we may find them about the President’s abuses and corruption. I will be consulting with the Speaker and my fellow chairs on next steps in this matter.”
“What we’ve just learned makes it even more difficult to understand why Ambassador Bolton did not testify during the House’s impeachment inquiry. If President Trump urged the Chinese leader to help with his reelection, just as he pressed the Ukrainian leader to do, the American people deserved to know that information,” the statement said.
Biden also released a statement, writing, if it is true that Trump “directly asked Xi Jinping, China’s leader, to help him get re-elected” that is “not only morally repugnant, it’s a violation of Donald Trump’s sacred duty to the American people to protect America’s interests and defend our values.”
Democratic lawmakers continued to release statements and tweet Wednesday evening:
Rep. Doug Collins, R-GA., the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee who opposed Trump’s impeachment, suggested Bolton was being opportunistic, tweeting, “$2 million. Apparently that’s all it took for John Bolton to sell off what little credibility he had left.”
Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-TN., told Washington Post White House reporter Seung Min Kim on Wednesday the new revelations from Bolton’s book wouldn’t cause him to rethink his choice in not voting to call forth witnesses. He reportedly said, “Did I need any more evidence to be convinced that President Trump did what he was accused of doing? I said he did it. I was convinced.”
Alexander explained to USA TODAY in early February during the Senate trial that he believed the House had proved its case that Trump withheld aid to pressure Ukraine into investigating Biden. But that act, while “inappropriate,” was not impeachable, he said then.
Trump told the Wall Street Journal in an interview Wednesday night that Bolton “is a liar while adding “everybody in the White House hated John Bolton” in response to the reports on the book.
Additionally, while appearing on Fox News with Sean Hannity Wednesday night, Trump said Bolton “washed up” before he gave him the job and continued to say Bolton broke the law with this book as the information is classified and he did not have permission.
Following through on a threat to take legal action to block the potentially critical tell-all book, the Trump administration Tuesday filed a lawsuit to stop Bolton from publishing the long-expected memoir.
However, several media organizations, including the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal obtained the book and have published stories on it.
Contributing: Ledyard King, Christal Hayes, John Fritze, Jeanine Santucci, Nicholas Wu, David Jackson