The New York Times has just reported new information regarding the President’s attempt to extort Ukrainian President Zelensky to announce an investigation into the Bidens in exchange for both US military and other aid, as well as a White House visit.
EXCLUSIVE: Bolton book contains new, earlier, allegation of Trump's involvement in pressure campaign. Trump asked Bolton to call Zelensky to ensure he would meet w/Giuliani. Cipollone and Mulvaney were in room. w/@maggieNYT https://t.co/8lZaG4zbfu
— Michael S. Schmidt (@nytmike) January 31, 2020
From The New York Times (emphasis mine):
WASHINGTON — More than two months before he asked Ukraine’s president to investigate his political opponents, President Trump directed John R. Bolton, then his national security adviser, to help with his pressure campaign to extract damaging information on Democrats from Ukrainian officials, according to an unpublished manuscript by Mr. Bolton.
Mr. Trump gave the instruction, Mr. Bolton wrote, during an Oval Office conversation in early May that included the acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, the president’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani and the White House counsel, Pat A. Cipollone, who is now leading the president’s impeachment defense.
Mr. Trump told Mr. Bolton to call Volodymyr Zelensky, who had recently won election as president of Ukraine, to ensure Mr. Zelensky would meet with Mr. Giuliani, who was planning a trip to Ukraine to discuss the investigations that the president sought, in Mr. Bolton’s account. Mr. Bolton never made the call, he wrote.
The previously undisclosed directive that Mr. Bolton describes would be the earliest known instance of Mr. Trump seeking to harness the power of the United States government to advance his pressure campaign against Ukraine, as he later did on the July call with Mr. Zelensky that triggered a whistle-blower complaint and impeachment proceedings. House Democrats have accused him of abusing his authority and are arguing their case before senators in the impeachment trial of Mr. Trump, whose lawyers have said he did nothing wrong.
The account in Mr. Bolton’s manuscript portrays the most senior White House advisers as early witnesses in the effort that they have sought to distance the president from. And disclosure of the meeting underscores the kind of information Democrats were looking for in seeking testimony from his top advisers in their impeachment investigation, including Mr. Bolton and Mr. Mulvaney, only to be blocked by the White House.
While all of the reporting and the reporters on this are focusing on what does this mean for today’s/this evening’s votes. Specifically whether this will force the votes on motions to bring witnesses and then to dismiss the impeachment charges against the President back until sometime over the weekend or next week. While that reporting is interesting, it misses the larger point: John Bolton’s information has a shelf life. And we are fast approaching that information passing it’s use by date.
Bolton’s information and use as a fact witness who directly observed what the President and other members of his senior staff – Chief of Staff Mulvaney, VP Pence, WH Counsel Cippolone, and others – has a limited shelf life. That information only has value if he can get it out before the Senate dismisses the impeachment charges against the President. Once the Senate dismisses the impeachment charges, his book is going to fail its pre-publication classification review, because it will be made to fail it’s pre-publication classification review in order to keep it from ever seeing the light of day. The person overseeing that review, National Security Council Counsel John Eisenberg is one of White House Counsel Pat Cipollone’s deputies. Bolton will likely sue to force his book to be approved, which is the normal response to these things, and that suit will be resolved several years from now. While that suit drags on, as soon as the Senate dismisses the impeachment charges against the President, the President will have AG Barr go after him the way that Deputy FBI Director McCabe and others have been targeted. Bolton’s only chance now is to get ahead of what’s coming. And that chance has a very quickly oncoming expiration date.
Today just went sideways for Senator McConnell, the President, and Pat Cipollone whose long suspected complicity and involvement in all of this has now been further exposed to the light of day. The question is whether Senator McConnell can regain his footing to do what we all know he is planning on doing.