The impeachment inquiry looking into the conduct of President Donald Trump has centered primarily on whether he pressured Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky into opening an investigation on a political rival, to help Trump politically in the 2020 U.S. presidential elections.
Aside from a damning whistleblower complaint (as well as a questionable memorandum detailing Trump’s conversation with Zelensky, released by the White House itself), there’s been other bits of evidence that demonstrate such action was taken by the administration — and that a quid pro quo may have taken place, tying military aid to Ukraine to an investigation into Joe Biden and his son Hunter, as well as said investigation (and others into Democrats in general) being a prerequisite to securing a one-on-one meeting between Zelensky and Trump.
Text messages between executive branch staff show that many were uncomfortable with the arrangement. While the White House has said that no quid pro quo had occurred, others within the State Department viewed the situation as just that, text messages have shown, according to prior reporting from HillReporter.com.
Now, a new wrinkle in the matter has come about. According to the New York Times, Trump’s own national security adviser, who at the time was John Bolton, had objections to the administration’s moves as well.
The revelation came about through testimony given by a former aid to Bolton’s named Fiona Hill, who served as senior official for Russia and Europe on the National Security Council. Speaking before House investigators, Hill described a testy exchange Bolton had on July 10 with Gordon Sondland, the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union, regarding the effort to press for investigations into Democrats in Ukraine, according to sources who were privy to the testimony behind closed doors on Monday.
Breaking: Bolton instructed aide to report Giuliani pressure campaign to White House lawyer. “I am not part of whatever drug deal Rudy and Mulvaney are cooking up,” Bolton said, according to testimony to House investigators. @npfandos https://t.co/GO1pnMSyBl
— Peter Baker (@peterbakernyt) October 15, 2019
Bolton told Hill after that exchange to alert the head lawyer for the National Security Council, let them know of an effort by Sondland, Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, and Trump chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, to push for the investigations. Bolton had strong misgivings to their goals, Hill said, quoting the former national security adviser as saying, “I am not part of whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up.”
Hill recalled other ways in which Bolton described the situation, including his opinions on Giuliani.
“Giuliani’s a hand grenade who’s going to blow everybody up,” Bolton told her, according to Hill’s testimony.
Hill’s remarks before Congress on Monday regarding Bolton’s actions were part of a larger testimony in which she had explained that Giuliani and others in the White House were running a shadow foreign policy campaign in Ukraine that went around what officials in the State Department and other executive branch departments were aiming to achieve in that country, the Washington Post reported.
Hill’s testimony behind closed doors lasted around 10 hours.