“President Trump told his national security adviser in August that he wanted to continue freezing $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine until officials there helped with investigations into Democrats including the Bidens, according to an unpublished manuscript by the former adviser, John Bolton,” the New York Times reports.
“The president’s statement as described by Mr. Bolton could undercut a key element of his impeachment defense: that the holdup in aid was separate from Mr. Trump’s requests that Ukraine announce investigations into his perceived enemies, including former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, who had worked for a Ukrainian energy firm while his father was in office.”
“Mr. Bolton’s explosive account of the matter at the center of Mr. Trump’s impeachment trial was included in drafts of a manuscript he has circulated in recent weeks to close associates.”
Here’s are the biggest bombshells from Bolton’s manuscript:
- Trump personally told Bolton he was linking the release of Ukraine military aid to the investigations he sought of Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.
- Trump’s top advisers — Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark Esper — were universally opposed to Trump’s scheme.
- Pompeo directly told Bolton that Rudy Giuliani’s claims about U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch being corrupt were not accurate — something he still refuses to say publicly.
- Bolton warned Attorney General William Barr and White House lawyers that Giuliani was using his relationship with Trump to assist his private clients.
These revelations from Bolton’s forthcoming book could escalate pressure on Senate Republicans to vote to call witnesses in President Trump’s impeachment trial. A handful of Republican senators have suggested they might be open to hearing from witnesses but at least four would need to join all the Democrats to allow witnesses.
But even more important, these bombshells highlight the possibility that new information that will come out in the coming months that could backfire on Republicans who attempt to force an early end to the trial.
Jonathan Swan: “The revelations present a dramatic 11th hour turn in Trump’s Senate impeachment trial. They directly contradict Trump’s claim that he never tied the hold-up of Ukrainian aid to his demands for investigations into his political opponent Joe Biden.”
Senate Republicans’ entire argument just fell apart. They say they don’t want witnesses who didn’t speak directly to Trump. Now Trump’s former National Security Advisor who spoke directly to Trump says he is guilty. No reason not to hear from him other than a GOP cover-up.
President Trump slammed House manager Adam Schiff as a “CORRUPT POLITICIAN” who is “now exposed for illegally making up my phone call, & more!” He added that “Shifty” has “not paid the price, yet, for what he has done to our Country!”
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) was quick to classify President Trump’s Sunday tweet aimed at him as a threat during an interview on MSNBC’s “Meet the Press.” After Todd asked him if he takes the tweet as a threat, Schiff responded that he thinks “it’s intended to be” before going onto argue “it is going to be very difficult for some of these senators to stand up to this President.”
“It really is — there’s no question about it and I want to acknowledge that. And I don’t want to acknowledge it in a way that is offensive to them,” Schiff said. “But I do want to speak candidly about it. And if this weren’t an issue, there wouldn’t be an issue about calling witnesses. If we can’t even get the senators to agree to call witnesses in a trial, it shows you just how difficult that moral courage is.”
Politico: “The Republican strategy — which is still fluid — could mean senators have limited time between key procedural votes and the final vote on whether to convict the president of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. And with the odds growing against additional witnesses being called, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will face critical decisions on how fast he can bring the proceedings to an end.”
“Sen. John Barrasso suggested that an acquittal vote could take place as soon as Friday — if senators don’t agree to subpoena additional witnesses or documentary evidence. Under the organizing resolution that controls the proceedings, Democrats could offer additional motions if the Senate votes down deposing additional witnesses — including former national security adviser John Bolton — but Republicans could then move to shut down debate and call for an up-or-down vote on acquittal.”
Rep. Adam Schiff told NBC News the White House defense is “deathly afraid of what witnesses will have to say” and “if they’re successful in depriving the country of a fair trial, there is no exoneration.”
Rest in peace, Kobe and Gianna.
“Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says an NPR host lied in setting up an interview with him on Friday, but email records support the journalist’s account of how the contentious exchange came to be,” the Washington Post reports.
“The emails indicate that Pompeo’s staff was aware that NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly would ask Pompeo about several topics in the interview and raised no objections, contrary to Pompeo’s characterization.”
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin’s wife appeared to publicly break with her husband over support for Greta Thunberg’s climate change activism, Politico reports.
Said actress Louise Linton, in a now-deleted Instagram post: “I stand with Greta on this issue. (I don’t have a degree in economics either).”
House Judiciary Committee chair Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) confirmed in a Sunday afternoon statement that he will miss part of the Senate impeachment trial due to his wife’s hospitalization in New York where she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
“In December, following the House Judiciary Committee markup of the Articles of Impeachment against President Donald J. Trump, my wife was admitted to the hospital where she was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer,” Nadler said in the statement. “She has undergone surgery and is taking further steps to address the spread of the cancer.”
“On Monday, I will be in New York with her to meet with doctors, determine a path forward, and begin her treatment,” Nadler said. “I am sorry to miss some of the Senate Impeachment Trial, which is of critical importance to our democracy. I plan to return to Washington late Monday and appreciate the support of my colleagues and staff as I take this time to be with my wife and begin the long fight against her cancer.”
House impeachment manager Jason Crow (D-CO) dodged when asked whether the April 2018 recording of President Trump telling Rudy Giuliani associates to “take [Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch] out” can be included in the ongoing impeachment trial. In the 90-minute recording first reported by ABC Friday, Trump is seen telling Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman to “take [Yovanovitch] out!” after he was told that the career foreign service officer was “badmouthing” him in Kyiv.
When asked by CBS’ Margaret Brennan on “Face the Nation” Sunday morning if he can “do anything as a prosecutor with the tape,” Crow declined to provide a straightforward answer.
“Well, you know, I’ve heard the tape. I know the other managers have. I know a lot of people in America have heard the tape,” Crow said. “You know, broadly speaking, this is a continuation of the President’s bullying and intimidation. You know, it’s what he’s done for the last three, four years, and he’s going to continue to do it.” Pressed again on whether the recording is “evidence you can introduce in any way,” Crow replied that “I think the senators have all seen it.”
The Trump administration threatened to withhold federal funding from California if the state doesn’t stop requiring private insurers to cover abortions. The Department of Health and Human Services made the announcement at today’s March for Life anti-abortion rights rally, at which President Trump also spoke. The administration said it would withhold at least one health funding stream if California doesn’t commit to ending the requirement in the next 30 days. The announcement was also meant as a warning to several other states with similar rules. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA) said California won’t back down.
A critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s regime says the Saudi government tried to kidnap him on U.S. soil. Abdulrahman Almutairi is a California-based comedian with a large social media presence, who began making videos criticizing MBS after his connection to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi became clear. In response, the Saudi government cut off his scholarship and health insurance, unleashed a torrent of threats, and, in the fall of 2018, sent an agent to the U.S. with Almutairi’s father in an attempt to kidnap him. The FBI was waiting to intercept them at the airport, and sent them back to Saudi Arabia. Almutairi continues to receive death threats on his phone.