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There has to be a better story behind John Bolton leaving office as the national security adviser in September other than he and Donald Trump just disagreeing too much as the president said at the time. He said he was fired, while Bolton said he resigned voluntarily.
And now we find out that the day he left happens to be one day after military aid was finally released to Ukraine. Additionally, people who worked under him have already testified that they had knowledge of the Ukraine policy and that he was very concerned about Trump’s efforts to push Ukraine into investigating his political rivals in exchange for military aid.
It looks like we may find out what it is that caused him to leave office as well as what he knows, as people familiar with Bolton’s opinions say he is willing to defy the White House and appear in the House Democrat impeachment inquiry if a federal judge approves his deputy, Charles Kupperman, testifying.
These sources say he’ll confirm the statements of the prior witnesses as well as detail his own conversations with Trump regarding the issue.
It’s not clear if that will even happen in time for him to appear before the House panel with the public hearings due to begin next week. Also waiting to hear if he can be compelled to testify is former White House counsel Don McGahn with regard to the Russia investigation.
It’s likely that the court decision on whether the others can be forced to testify will extend on and be heard by the Supreme Court, and this could take this whole thing into 2020.
It’s expected that Bolton talked to Trump at some point about his objectives with the Ukraine policies, making the testimony potentially damaging.
Bolton’s presence has only been requested. He has not been subpoenaed. While the other officials have agreed to testify against the White House’s orders, he just isn’t willing to.
“We regret Mr. Bolton’s decision not to appear voluntarily, but we have no interest in allowing the administration to play rope-a-dope with us in the courts for months,” said a House Intelligence official speaking on the condition of anonymity.
“Rather, the White House instruction that he not appear will add to the evidence of the president’s obstruction of Congress.”
Former Russian affairs director Fiona Hill said in her testimony that Bolton became very angry after a White House meeting in July when the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland pushed Ukrainian officials to open the investigations Trump wanted. Bolton reportedly compared it to a “drug deal.”
He told Hill to discuss what she heard to National Security Council John Eisenberg. Also reporting the discussions to Eisenberg was NSC Ukraine expert Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman.
Acting Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor testified that Bolton was “very sympathetic” when he expressed his concerns to him about the military aid being withheld. Bolton recommended he send a “first person” cable to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo regarding his concerns.
Taylor also said other State Department officials had told him that Bolton was trying to get the aid for Ukraine released by giving authority of the funds back to the secretaries of state and defense and the CIA director.
Bolton’s possible appearance relies on the results of Kupperman’s lawsuit, though on Wednesday the House withdrew its subpoena of Kupperman and asked for his lawsuit to be dropped, as, in the interest of time, they want to rely on the McGahn case for the decision, since that case is further along at this time.
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