U.S. President Donald Trump said in August he wanted to continue freezing military aide to Ukraine until officials there helped with investigations into political rivals, including former Vice President Joe Biden, The New York Times reported on January 26.
The newspaper described an unpublished manuscript by former top presidential adviser John Bolton without directly quoting from the document that has been also sent to the White House for pre-publication review, a standard practice for some current and former administration officials who write books.
The White House hasn’t commented on the matter.
The hundreds of millions of dollars was approved in the 2019 federal budget. The Trump administration twice told Congress, which approves the budget, it was releasing the aid to Ukraine: on February 28 and May 23.
Both times the White House didn’t provide an explanation why the funds were withheld.
Bolton left the White House a day before Trump ultimately released $391 million in military assistance to Kyiv on September 11 and has told lawmakers he is willing to testify, despite the president’s order barring aides from cooperating in the proceedings.
“John Bolton has the evidence,” tweeted Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (Democrat-New York). “It’s up to four Senate Republicans to ensure that John Bolton, [acting White House chief of staff] Mick Mulvaney, and the others with direct knowledge of President Trump’s actions testify in the Senate trial.”
The Democrats need at least four Republicans to vote with them to seek witness testimony in the trial. However, the legislative chamber is controlled by Trump’s fellow Republicans.
RFE/RL has not confirmed the contents of the draft of Bolton’s book. He left his post after disagreements with the president. Trump said he fired him. Bolton said he resigned.
Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives have charged Trump with abuse of office and obstruction of Congress. A trial is underway in the Senate to decide whether to convict and remove the president from office. The chamber’s 100 senators are the jurors in the trial.
Trump has denied wrongdoing and has called the impeachment proceedings a “witch hunt.”
Day seven of the impeachment trial begins on January 27 at 1 p.m. local time with Trump’s defense team expected to continue presenting opening arguments. Other legislative work is possible as well.