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Does Bolton shoot at Trump?

Tehran TimesDonald Trump is concerned about the testimony of former US National Security Adviser John Bolton against himself in the Ukraine Gate case. The US President knows well that Bolton is ready to take such action against the White House! However, Donald Trump is aware of John Bolton’s sentiments and sensitivities. A former US national security adviser is seeking revenge on Trump. Here’s a review of the latest analyzes of the Trump-Bolton relationship:

Waiting for Bolton: A Capital Speculates on What He Will Say

New York Times reported that As the House impeachment inquiry enters its second month, there may be no witness investigators want to question more than John R. Bolton, the president’s former national security adviser.

The message that John R. Bolton, President Trump’s former national security adviser, sent supporters of his newly reopened political action committee last week raised as many questions as it answered in a capital consumed by impeachment.Mr. Bolton implicitly criticized Mr. Trump’s foreign policy, declaring that “despite all the friendly notes and photo ops, North Korea isn’t our friend and never will be.” But he also wrote that the nation’s security “is under attack from within,” citing “radicalized Democrats.”

The conflicting signals were maddening. After either resigning or being fired last month depending on whose version is to be believed, is Mr. Bolton so estranged from Mr. Trump that he might provide damaging testimony to House investigators? Or does he share the president’s view of out-of-control Democrats pursuing an illegitimate impeachment out of partisan excess?The question is more than academic. As the House inquiry enters its second month, there may be no one in Washington that investigators want to question more than Mr. Bolton. His name has come up repeatedly in testimony that has depicted him resisting Mr. Trump’s Ukraine pressure campaign and warning that Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, was a “hand grenade who’s going to blow everybody up.”

But even as he has been at the center of the discussion during the impeachment inquiry, the outspoken former Fox News commentator has remained uncharacteristically silent. To Democrats who vilified him for years as an ultraconservative warmonger, suddenly Mr. Bolton has emerged as a much-sought witness who in the narrative they are assembling may have made a principled stand against Mr. Trump’s abuse of power to advance domestic political goals.

“What it says is this is not about competing Republican versus Democratic visions of American foreign policy,” said Representative Tom Malinowski, Democrat of New Jersey. “This is about whether our foreign policy should be made in the national interest or in the personal political interests of the president.”

It may take longer for investigators to find out. Mr. Bolton shares a lawyer with his former deputy and longtime ally, Charles M. Kupperman, who went to court on Friday to ask a judge to decide whether he should obey a House subpoena or a White House order to not testify. Mr. Bolton presumably might follow the same course.

If and when he does testify, Mr. Bolton appears positioned to answer fundamental questions surrounding the events that have led the president to the edge of impeachment. As the national security adviser, Mr. Bolton was charged with managing the government’s foreign policy apparatus. Yet Mr. Trump and Mr. Giuliani worked around Mr. Bolton to try to pressure Ukraine to investigate Democrats. At the same time, the president froze $391 million in American assistance to the former Soviet republic.

“According to the testimony given to Congress so far, Bolton was a central figure in trying to prevent any delay in releasing foreign aid to Ukraine,” said John Yoo, a University of Berkeley law school professor and senior Justice Department official under President George W. Bush. “I cannot see how any responsible investigation would not seek Bolton’s appearance.”

But he added that the White House would presumably “go to the mat” to fight any effort to interview Mr. Bolton. “If the White House were to fight the House impeachment on executive privilege grounds, Bolton would be the hill on which to die,” Mr. Yoo said. “The Trump White House could claim not just that the impeachment investigation is illegitimate, which is its current line of defense, but that it is defending the right of future presidents to have an effective White House and to conduct a successful foreign policy.”

A Yale-trained lawyer, Mr. Bolton brought years of experience when Mr. Trump made him his third national security adviser in March 2018. Mr. Bolton served in both the Justice Department, where he headed the civil division under President Ronald Reagan, and the State Department, where he was an assistant secretary of state under the first President George Bush and an under secretary of state and ambassador to the United Nations under the second Mr. Bush.

While Mr. Trump appreciated his firebrand style of politics on Fox News, Mr. Bolton saw his job as keeping Mr. Trump from making unwise deals with outlier states like North Korea or Iran, leading to friction. Mr. Bolton struggled with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for control of foreign policy and left just a day before Mr. Trump agreed to restore the frozen aid to Ukraine under pressure from Congress.

With his trademark bushy mustache and unapologetic conservative views, Mr. Bolton, 70, has built a following on the right, even flirting in the past with running for president himself. His political action committee has donated more than $1.5 million to candidates since 2014 and spent another $6 million to promote his policy views related to national security.Since leaving Mr. Trump’s team last month, Mr. Bolton has already identified five Republican senators and congressmen for whom he plans to raise $50,000 each and, as reported by Bloomberg, sent out the solicitation email on Thursday that seemed to provide conflicting clues. He has also rejoined the Rhone Group, a private equity firm where he worked before the White House, and was spotted in South Korea in recent days talking with investors. And he is reportedly thinking about writing a book.

The combination of his pedigree and the possibility that he really does have incriminating information about Mr. Trump makes him a particularly appealing witness to Democrats. The prospect of one of the nation’s most visible foreign policy conservatives testifying against his former boss would, in their view, underscore the significance of Mr. Trump’s transgressions.But some Democrats warn that they cannot be sure what he will say once he sits for an interview. “You just can’t work from assumptions,” said Representative Mike Quigley, Democrat of Illinois and a member of the House Intelligence Committee. “I don’t know what he had. I don’t know if he has value. I don’t know if he is willing to talk about it.”

The president’s defenders dismiss the idea that Mr. Bolton could hurt Mr. Trump. “I don’t care what Bolton says,” Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and a close ally of the president’s, said on Fox News on Thursday. If the Ukrainians did not know the president had held up their aid when he was pressing them to investigate Democrats, Mr. Graham said, there is no impeachable offense. “You can’t have a crime unless you have a victim. There is no victim here.”

Democrats disagree with that logic, saying it can still be an impeachable offense to pressure a foreign power to provide dirt on a political opponent regardless of when the Ukrainians knew about the suspension of the assistance. Moreover, The New York Times, citing interviews and documents, reported that in fact word of the aid freeze had gotten to high-level Ukrainian officials by the first week in August, earlier than previously known.

Mr. Bolton has hired Charles J. Cooper, one of Washington’s best-known lawyers and a colleague and friend since the Reagan administration, when Mr. Cooper was an assistant attorney general. Mr. Cooper, whose firm’s motto is “victory or death,” also represented former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, another Trump adviser who fell out with the president.

According to testimony presented so far, Mr. Bolton bristled at efforts by Mr. Giuliani to bypass the national security process as he pressured Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and a conspiracy theory that Ukrainians, not Russians, intervened in the 2016 election, and did so to boost Democrats, not Republicans. Mr. Trump’s former homeland security adviser repeatedly told the president that the theory had been “completely debunked.”

Mr. Bolton met on July 10 with Ukrainian officials and Gordon D. Sondland, a political appointee serving as ambassador to the European Union, who was working with Mr. Giuliani and Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, on the issue. When the investigations came up, Mr. Bolton grew so irritated that he abruptly ended the meeting, according to Fiona Hill, his former top Europe and Russia adviser.

Ms. Hill testified that Mr. Bolton told her to report what was going on to a White House lawyer. “I am not part of whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up,” he told her to tell the lawyer. She also testified that, on an earlier occasion, Mr. Bolton said, “Giuliani’s a hand grenade who’s going to blow everybody up.”

Mr. Bolton unsuccessfully sought to block Mr. Mulvaney’s effort to arrange an Oval Office visit in May by Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary, an authoritarian leader whose criticism of Ukraine reinforced Mr. Trump’s already hostile views toward the country. Mr. Bolton likewise opposed the July 25 telephone call in which Mr. Trump pressed President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to “do us a favor” by investigating the 2016 conspiracy theory and Mr. Biden.

Mr. Bolton went to Ukraine on Aug. 27 to try to prepare for a meeting between the president and Mr. Zelensky that ultimately did not happen. While there, William B. Taylor Jr., the acting ambassador to Ukraine, said he raised his concerns about the frozen aid and Mr. Bolton recommended he send a cable to Mr. Pompeo.

But Mr. Mulvaney and Mr. Sondland have said that Mr. Bolton never brought any concerns about the Ukraine pressure campaign to them.

“I read that and I was surprised, because John Bolton never complained to me about it,” Mr. Mulvaney said on “Fox News Sunday” last weekend. “No one at N.S.C. ever complained to me about anything that was going on.”

Mr. Sondland testified that Mr. Bolton embraced their efforts during a conference call in June. “We went over the entire Ukraine strategy with Ambassador Bolton, who agreed with the strategy and signed off on it,” Mr. Sondland said. “Indeed, over the spring and summer of 2019, I received nothing but cordial responses from Ambassador Bolton and Dr. Hill.”So now Mr. Bolton has been left in the middle, a key witness in the unfolding impeachment drama. His friend, Thomas M. Boyd, an assistant attorney general in the Reagan and Bush administrations, said Mr. Bolton understands his obligations to guard the confidentiality of communications with the president but will also be prepared to give his unvarnished views if it comes to it.“I just don’t think that he’s in an awkward position at all,” said Mr. Boyd. “He’s very comfortable in his own skin and whatever decisions he’s made or plans to make, I’m sure he’s comfortable with them as well.”

John Bolton, welcome to the Resistance?

Politica reported that Testimony in the impeachment inquiry has indicated Bolton was alarmed by shifts in Trump’s foreign policy. But will he turn on the president?Washington has grown accustomed to the unexpected, the unusual and even the bizarre during the presidency of Donald Trump.But is it ready for John Bolton, hero of the “Resistance”?

It’s a question increasingly on the minds of lawmakers, U.S. diplomats and possibly Trump himself as the House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry forges ahead. A key revelation so far: Bolton, while serving as Trump’s national security adviser, raised alarms about the politically questionable role informal actors were playing in shaping U.S. foreign policy toward Ukraine.

“Am I going to have to like Bolton now?” Bradley Moss, a national security lawyer frequently critical of the Trump administration, tweeted earlier this month. “This plot twist, where John Bolton turns out to be good, really strains the credibility of this entire season,” joked Vox.com writer Ian Millhiser.In remarks he’s made since leaving the administration in September, Bolton has blasted Trump’s outreach to North Korea as “doomed to failure” and ripped his negotiations with the Taliban as “disrespectful” to the families of 9/11 victims.

He hasn’t publicly described what others have depicted as a fierce internal battle among aides and associates of Trump over the thrust of U.S. policy toward Ukraine, however. Privately, some observers suspect whatever Bolton ultimately says could damage the president.
On Tuesday, William Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, offered the most detailed account yet portraying Bolton — a famously hawkish conservative known for his bureaucratic knife-fighting skills and loathing of liberals — as growing irate at the possibility that Ukraine policy was being warped by Trump’s political ambitions.

In testimony before House lawmakers, Taylor said he was told by Fiona Hill and Alex Vindman, both National Security Council officials at the time, that Bolton “abruptly ended” a July 10 meeting with Ukrainian officials. He did so after Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, “connected” a potential Trump meeting with Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, with “investigations.”

As he ended the meeting, according to Taylor, Bolton told Hill and Vindman that “they should have nothing to do with domestic politics.” Bolton told Hill, who has also since left the NSC, that she should “brief the lawyers.” Bolton also opposed setting up a call between Zelensky and Trump “out of concern that it ‘would be a disaster,’” Taylor testified.

Taylor’s statements aligned what Hill told lawmakers earlier. He confirmed a particularly colorful line from Hill: that “Bolton referred to this as a ‘drug deal’ after the July 10 meeting.”

Hill also told lawmakers that Bolton described Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, who also was helping shape Ukraine policy, as “a hand grenade who’s going to blow everybody up.”

Bolton was not on the July 25 phone call between Trump and Zelensky that is at the core of the impeachment probe. According to a detailed readout of that call, which Trump has defended as “perfect,” Trump repeatedly pressured the new Ukrainian leader to investigate Joe Biden.Trump pushed Bolton out of the national security adviser role in September, after months of rising tensions between the two, describing him as “tough” but “not smart.” He also complained, “John wasn’t in line with what we were doing” — remarks that at the time were interpreted to refer to Bolton’s widely reported disagreements with the president over Afghanistan, Iran and North Korea.Bolton’s firing came at almost exactly the same time that the Trump administration agreed to unfreeze some $400 million in military aid to Ukraine — money that Taylor came to believe was being held up to pressure Kiev into pursuing Trump’s desired investigations.

There remain many unanswered questions about Bolton’s role in the Ukraine drama, including whether he ever addressed his concerns directly with Trump or took other steps to derail actions he thought inappropriate.Bolton, via a spokeswoman, declined to comment for this story. There is widespread anticipation, however, that lawmakers will demand his testimony.

The White House has refused to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry led by Hill Democrats, and has even sought to bar former officials like Bolton from testifying. If he does end up providing his version of events, what he says could affect not only the inquiry but also history’s view of him.Until now, Bolton’s professional legacy has been shaped heavily by a few things: his time spent as George W. Bush’s ambassador to the United Nations; his vehement disdain for multilateralism; his pugnacious support for the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq; and his time at Trump’s side, during which he angled for military strikes on Iran.

But Bolton is working on a hotly anticipated book in which he’s expected to provide a first-hand account of his tumultuous 17-month tenure working for Trump. His agents on the project, Javelin’s Matt Latimer and Keith Urbahn, secured major advances for previous tell-alls by former FBI director James Comey and ex-White House aide Cliff Sims.Bolton’s allies caution Trump’s liberal detractors not to get their hopes up that Bolton has changed at his core. Plus, they warn, what’s been leaked out of the closed-door impeachment hearings so far isn’t the full picture.

“This idea of John Bolton being a hero on the left is such nonsense,” said Fred Fleitz, a longtime associate who briefly worked as Bolton’s chief of staff at the NSC. “John Bolton is a Reagan conservative, and he’s going to remain so after this process.”
For now, plenty of Democrats who love the idea of aides turning on Trump are unwilling to rope Bolton into the so-called Resistance. It is possible, they argue, to be a purveyor of terrible policy ideas while at the same time balking at illegal, or at least impeachable, acts.
And the longer Bolton takes to speak out, some add, the more the skepticism of his motives will rise.

“There is an early mover advantage for witnesses to come forward on presidential misconduct, not to mention a constitutional duty to do so,” said Jeffrey Prescott, a former senior official in the Obama administration. “Soon, the question for those around Trump, including those who have left the administration, is ‘If you saw something, why didn’t you say something?’”

John Gans, author of “White House Warriors,” a book about the NSC, noted that Bolton, a Yale-trained lawyer, has long held a view that the president has expansive power on foreign policy. Republicans seeking to shut down the inquiry will be relying in part on arguments he and others have made, Gans said.

“The question for all those who see Bolton as the key to bringing Trump down is whether he will abdicate or put aside his long-held views on the presidency,” Gans said.Taylor’s testimony Tuesday also raised questions about the actions of two other Trump aides: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Tim Morrison, a top NSC official.

According to Taylor, he spoke privately in late August with Bolton about his concern that Trump was withholding U.S. military assistance to Ukraine, though this was before he realized the aid freeze may have been to pressure Zelensky into pursuing the investigations.

By signing up you agree to receive email newsletters or alerts from POLITICO. You can unsubscribe at any time. This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.On Bolton’s advice, Taylor sent a first-person cable to Pompeo, sharing his worries that withholding the aid would hurt Ukraine’s ability to defend itself against Russia.“I told the secretary that I could not and would not defend such a policy,” Taylor said. “Although I received no specific response, I heard that soon thereafter, the secretary carried the cable with him to a meeting at the White House focused on security assistance for Ukraine.”

The testimony deepens the mystery surrounding Pompeo’s actions throughout the affair. He has acknowledged being on the July 25 call, but he’s been silent on what he knew, when he knew it and how he could have permitted Giuliani and others to play such a major role in Ukraine policy.The State Department did not reply to a request for comment.

Trump Suspects a Spiteful John Bolton Is Behind Some of the Ukraine Leaks

The Dailybeast reported that Trump fears the leaks are now coming from the people he chose to serve him—and that only increases the paranoia currently infecting the West Wing.At a critical juncture in his presidency, facing a rapidly unfolding impeachment inquiry by House Democrats, Donald Trump is feeling besieged by snitches.

In recent weeks, numerous leaks have appeared in the pages of The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and other major papers and news outlets detailing the president’s attempts to enlist foreign leaders to help dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden and also aid Trump’s quest to discredit Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s concluded investigation. And as is his MO, the media-obsessed president has been fixated on not just the identity of the whistleblower behind the internal complaint that brought this scandal to the fore, but also on who, exactly, has been namelessly feeding intel to the press.

In the course of casual conversations with advisers and friends, President Trump has privately raised suspicions that a spiteful John Bolton, his notoriously hawkish former national security adviser, could be one of the sources behind the flood of leaks against him, three people familiar with the comments said. At one point, one of those sources recalled, Trump guessed that Bolton was behind one of the anonymous accounts that listed the former national security adviser as one of the top officials most disturbed by the Ukraine-related efforts of Trump and Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney who remains at the center of activities that spurred the impeachment inquiry.

“[Trump] was clearly implying [it, saying] something to the effect of, ‘Oh, gee, I wonder who the source on that could be,’” this source said, referring to the president’s speculation. Bolton, for his part, told The Daily Beast last month that allegations that he was a leaker in Trump’s midst are “flatly incorrect.” The former national security adviser—who departed the administration last month on awful, mutually bitter terms—is working on a book about his time serving Trump, and has “a lot to dish,” one knowledgeable source noted. 

Neither Bolton nor White House spokespeople provided comment for this story. Matt Schlapp, an influential conservative activist with close ties to the White House, said his assumption was that the leaks were coming from “career folks inside who hate Trump” and that the president and his campaign had “14 months of this” to come. As for Bolton, Schlapp said, “He’s smarter than that, although he does aggressively defend himself.” 

Indeed, Bolton’s name surfaced Monday before House impeachment inquiry committees, when Hill reportedly testified that he told her to alert the chief lawyer for the National Security Council that Giuliani was working with Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, on an operation with legal implications, the Times reported late Monday. “I am not part of whatever drug deal Rudy and Mulvaney are cooking up,” Bolton told Hill to tell White House lawyers, according to sources familiar with the testimony.

“I have not spoken to John about [his comments, as conveyed by Hill],” Giuliani told The Daily Beast on Tuesday morning. “John is a longtime friend. I have no idea why John is doing this. My best guess is that he’s confused and bought into a false media narrative without bothering to call me about it.”

Regarding Bolton’s reported comment about Mulvaney being involved in this figurative Ukraine “drug deal,” the former New York City mayor insisted that “Mick wasn’t involved in this. I don’t recall having any lengthy conversation with him about this subject… I don’t recall ever having a lengthy conversation [about Ukraine] with John, either.”

Trump has felt under siege from within before, including at various flashpoints of his presidency. For instance, near the end of the Mueller probe, the president became so distrustful and resentful toward Don McGahn, his own White House counsel at the time, he started asking those close to him, “Is [Don] wearing a wire?”

But the current sense that he has been undermined by people whom he brought into his orbit has come at a critical juncture and colored some of the decisions he has made since the whistleblower complaint became public.  The president has openly declared that the whistleblower committed an act of treason. He has attempted to stop prominent advisers—including Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, a man who donated $1 million to the Trump inauguration—from testifying to Congress, only to apparently fail. On Monday, Fiona Hill, Trump’s former top adviser on Russia and Europe, was on Capitol Hill, where she reportedly told lawmakers that Sondland and Giuliani circumvented the standard national-security process on high-profile Ukraine matters. The president has struggled to add to his current legal team, and appeared to begin putting some distance between himself and Giuliani last week.

And when outside allies began to talk about constructing a war room to help with impeachment, Trump shot down the concept, in part out of a sense that he couldn’t rely on them to get the message out right. One top White House aide subsequently labeled the idea an exercise by “outside peeps trying to self-aggrandize.” The impression left on Republicans is one of a president increasingly driven by paranoia and a desire for insularity—and not, necessarily, to his own benefit. 

“There is a certain level of frustration that all the sudden the president says something, then Rudy does, and it is not always consistent. There is a frustration that not everybody knows what they should be doing. It is not that they can’t defend the president it is a frustration that they don’t know exactly how they are supposed to defend the president,” said John Brabender, a longtime GOP consultant. “From the president’s perspective, this whole thing is a witch hunt and is outrageous and, therefore, it shouldn’t even need explanation…But with that said, you can’t just be angry. You need a unified communications team.”

According to those who’ve known the president, the sense that a good chunk of the government has never fully accepted his presidency and has actively worked to undermine it has animated much of his activity over the past few weeks. And though they believe he has a point, they also wonder if it is making him functionally incapable of taking the advice of some advisers: to simply ignore impeachment and apply his attention to other facets of governance. 

Trump, they add, is preternaturally incapable of ignoring press about him and lingers particularly on leaks that depict atmospherics of his inner sanctum, the West Wing, and his internal well-being. “In my experience, what he despises is somebody writing that Donald Trump feels under siege and his emotions are this and his thinking is this,” said Sam Nunberg, a former Trump campaign aide. “He hates people saying what he is thinking… And one of his most frequent tricks in terms of talking about himself on background [as an anonymous source] is him having the reporter say [he is] someone ‘familiar with the president’s thinking.’”

Nunberg said he had yet to see a blind quote in any recent report that would lead him to believe that Trump is cold-calling reporters. But the president is certainly working the fourth estate. Democratic aides were left shaking their heads last week when they received an email from the White House with the subject line, “Article from President Trump” and a PDF attachment of a Kimberly Strassel Wall Street Journal column. “He’s apparently so anxious about GOP support in the Senate, he’s taken to sending WSJ columns against the House inquiry,” said a Senate source. 

Still, for all of Trump’s grousing and preoccupation with who is and isn’t stabbing him in the back, loyalty has always been a one-way street for this president. Last week, after the news broke that Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, two Soviet-born businessmen tied to Giuliani, were arrested on charges of violating campaign-finance law, a reporter at the White House asked Trump if the former New York mayor was still his personal attorney. The president responded that he didn’t know.

Though the president would later tweet out his support for Giuliani over the weekend, Trump has a long track record for being loyal to and supportive of a longtime associate, friend, or staffer—up until the moment he’s not. Perhaps the quintessential example of this is that of one of the president’s former attorneys, Michael Cohen, who famously turned on Trump after becoming convinced that the president had abandoned him while he was in the crosshairs of federal prosecutors.

Asked by The Daily Beast last week if the president told him that he still had his lawyer’s back—an attorney who further earned the president’s trust by defending Trump during the Mueller investigation—Giuliani let out a big belly-laugh and responded, “There’s nothing, [no knife], in my back. My back feels very comfortable right now,” he added.

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