Trump wanted Ukraine aid frozen until it probed his rivals: Report
Manuscript of new book by former national security adviser describes US President's statement
WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump told a then-top aide in August that he wanted to freeze security aid to Ukraine until officials there helped with investigations into Democrats, including former vice-president Joe Biden, the New York Times reported on Sunday.
Mr Trump's statement was described in an unpublished manuscript by former White House national security adviser John Bolton, the Times said in a report that could raise pressure on Republicans to call Mr Bolton as a witness in Mr Trump's Senate impeachment trial.
QUID PRO QUO
The report, which did not quote the manuscript but cited multiple people describing Mr Bolton's account, may undercut a key element of Mr Trump's defence: That there was no quid pro quo when he asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Mr Biden and son Hunter Biden in a July phone call.
Mr Biden is a leading contender for the Democratic nomination to oppose Mr Trump in the Nov 3 election. His son worked for a Ukrainian energy company while Mr Biden was vice-president.
In a statement, an attorney for Mr Bolton suggested that the Times' account was accurate and said he had submitted Mr Bolton's book manuscript to the National Security Council on Dec 30, a standard security review for classified information.
"It is clear, regrettably, from The New York Times article published today that the pre-publication review process has been corrupted and that information has been disclosed by persons other than those properly involved in reviewing the manuscript," the attorney, Mr Charles Cooper, said.
The report drew Democratic demands that the Republican-led Senate, which is conducting a trial on whether to remove Mr Trump from office after his Dec 18 impeachment by the House of Representatives, call Mr Bolton as a witness.
Democrats need to win over at least four Senate Republicans to approve the calling of witnesses. Mr Bolton said this month he was willing to testify in the trial if a Senate subpoena was issued.
Lawyers for Mr Trump were scheduled yesterday to resume their defence in the impeachment trial stemming from his dealings with Ukraine. A showdown vote on calling witnesses could loom later in the week.
Mr Trump has denied wrongdoing and calls the impeachment process a sham.
"I never told John Bolton that the aid to Ukraine was tied to investigations into Democrats, including the Bidens," Mr Trump said on Twitter.
"In fact, he never complained about this at the time of his very public termination.
"If John Bolton said this, it was only to sell a book." - REUTERS