In an interview last August, former National Security Adviser John Bolton described President Trump’s two telephone calls with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky as “warm and cordial.”
The interview Aug. 27 with Olena Removska of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, was spotlighted by talk-radio host and constitutional scholar Mark Levin as Democrats call for Bolton to testify in the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump.
“They were very warm and cordial calls,” Bolton said.
Levin commented on Twitter: “If he thought at the time that the president was stiff-arming the Ukrainians, he had a funny way of showing it.”
Bolton noted that Trump and Zelensky had spoken twice, including the July 25 phone call at the center of the articles of impeachment.
“We’re hoping they will be able to meet in Warsaw, and have a few minutes together,” Bolton said of the two presidents.
The mention of a meeting in Poland at a global summit also reinforces the White House’s argument that Trump did not condition meeting with the Ukrainian president on the delivery of aid.
2.And this is an interview with John Bolton describing the president’s conversations w/ the president of Ukraine as warm & cordial in Aug 2019.If he thought at the time that the president was stiff-arming the Ukrainians, he had a funny way of showing itpic.twitter.com/fXekPCD6hH
— Mark R. Levin (@marklevinshow) January 29, 2020
Bolton added that “the success of Ukraine, maintaining its freedom, it’s system of representative government, free market economy free of corruption, and dealing with the problems of the Donbass and Crimea, are high priorities here, obviously, but high priorities for the United States as well.”
Dershowitz: Nothing in Bolton claim impeachable
The push for witnesses in the Senate impeachment trial was bolstered Sunday by a New York Times report citing an unpublished Bolton manuscript saying that Trump told him he wanted to condition security aid to Ukraine on investigations into Democrats, including former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden.
Bolton, according to the House testimony of former National Security Council Russia expert Fiona Hill, said her boss Bolton instructed her to tell lawyers she was not part of the “drug deal” EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland and acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney were “cooking up” to pressure Ukraine.
The whistleblower complaint that triggered the impeachment investigation alleged Trump used the threat of withholding lethal aid to pressure Ukraine to dig up dirt on a political rival.
The White House argues the delayed aid was delivered before the deadline and there was no investigation of Joe and Hunter Biden. Zelensky has said he he didn’t feel any pressure, and the State Department itself was concerned that Hunter Biden’s profiting from a corrupt Ukraine natural gas company while his father was in charge of Ukraine policy was an apparent conflict of interest.
Significantly, Harvard lawyer Dershowitz on Monday night, as a member of Trump’s team, argued that “quid pro quo” in itself is not an abuse of power.
It’s rather a regular method of conducting foreign policy, he said, acknowledging that he may disagree with particular quid pro quos.
“Even if a president were to demand a quid pro quo as a condition to sending aid to a foreign country, that would not by itself constitute an abuse of power,” he said.
Dershowitz then directly addressed the Bolton leak.
“Nothing in the Bolton revelations, even if true, would rise to the level of an abuse of power or an impeachable offense,” he said.
“That is clear from the history, that is clear from the language of the Constitution. You cannot turn conduct that is not impeachable into impeachable conduct simply by using words like quid pro quo and personal benefit.”
A policy difference, he emphasized, is not criteria for impeachment.
“That’s a criteria for deciding who you’re going to vote for,” Dershowitz told the Senate.
“Don’t allow your subjective judgments to determine what is and what is not an impeachable offense.”
Meanwhile, Fred Fleitz, who twice as served as Bolton’s chief of staff, is advising Bolton to withdraw his upcoming tell-all book, emphasizing the “importance of protecting a president’s confidential discussions with his senior advisers.”
See the full RFE/RL interview with Bolton: