Democrats demand Bolton testimony after report his book says Trump tied Ukraine aid to Biden probe

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John Bolton listens as President Donald Trump meets with Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte in the Oval Office on July 18th, 2019. Copyright Jabin Botsford The Washington Post/Getty Images file
By Lauren Egan with NBC News Politics
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The reported account in an unpublished manuscript by the former national security adviser counters the White House's defense of the president.


WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump told former national security adviser John Bolton that nearly $400 million in frozen security aid to Ukraine would not be released until that nation offered assistance with probes into Democratic targets, including the Bidens, Bolton alleges in an unpublished book whose contents were reported Sunday night.

NBC has not verified The New York Times report, which cited multiple sources familiar with Bolton's account, or seen a copy of that manuscript.

The contents of that manuscript were described as a rough account of the former Trump official's potential testimony, were he called as a witness in the Senate impeachment trial currently underway. The prospect of any new witnesses has been viewed as unlikely, given Republican reluctance to accept additional testimony.

The president's allies have said that the aid delay was unconnected to Trump's requests that Ukrainian officials announce probes that stood to undercut his domestic political opponents, including former Vice President Joe Biden.

In the unpublished book, Bolton reportedly alleges that other administration officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Attorney General William Barr and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, were made aware of Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani's unusual involvement in a shadow foreign policy in Ukraine well before it became a central element of the whistleblower complaint at the heart of the impeachment inquiry.

Bolton's book has reportedly been sent for review to the White House, which did not immediately respond to an NBC request for comment.

Last week, Trump expressed misgivings over the prospect of Bolton's testimony.

"The problem with John is, that it's a national security problem," he told reporters at an impromptu press conference at the World Economic Forum in Davos, adding that Bolton "knows some of my thoughts, what I think about leaders — what happens if he reveals what I think about a leader and it's not very positive?"

Hill Democrats on Sunday said the new report highlighted the urgency of a Senate request for Bolton's testimony — a move which would require several GOP votes.

"John Bolton has the evidence," tweeted Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. "It's up to four Senate Republicans to ensure that John Bolton, Mick Mulvaney, and the others with direct knowledge of President Trump's actions testify in the Senate trial."

The House impeachment managers said in a statement that in the wake of the report, there could be "no doubt now that Mr. Bolton directly contradicts the heart of the President's defense and therefore must be called as a witness at the impeachment trial of President Trump. Senators should insist that Mr. Bolton be called as a witness, and provide his notes and other relevant documents."

This is a developing story — check back for updates

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