John Bolton, President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, has made his first public statements since being the focal point of the debate over witnesses at President Trump’s Senate impeachment trial.
The controversial former NSA implied Monday that he was worried the administration could try to bury details about his time in the White House as it reviews the manuscript for his highly anticipated book.
Speaking to a capacity audience at Duke University on Monday, he complained that Trump was free to tweet about policy while he faced legal action if he spoke out, but said he hoped his book would not be suppressed despite a prepublication review and promised many more details from his time working for Trump.
His knowledge of the president’s Ukraine strategy was just “sprinkles on the ice cream sundae,” Bolton has alleged.
“This is an effort to write history, and I did it the best I can,” he said. “We’ll have to see what comes out of the censorship.”
His use of the word “censorship,” provoked gasps among some in the 1,200-strong audience.
Last month, it emerged that Bolton, in his book, alleges that the president directed him to help with a pressure campaign to obtain damaging information from Ukraine on his Democratic rivals – most notably former VP, Joe Biden.
Bolton’s memoir, The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir, is due to be published on March 17, 2020, by Simon & Schuster.
Speaking onstage to Peter Feaver, professor of political science at Duke, Bolton, by his own admission, “ducked” questions about his instructions from Trump. He said the administration’s prepublication review meant that he could not discuss details for fear of legal action.
“I say things in the manuscript about what he said to me. I hope they become public someday,” he said. “He tweets, but I can’t talk about it. How fair is that?”
The legal battle over his book meant he avoided question after question. When asked whether he agreed with Trump’s characterization of his July 25 phone conversation, the call that sparked a whistleblower complaint, with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine as “perfect,” he demurred, saying, “You will love chapter 14.”
Bolton’s appearance at Duke marked his first public appearance since leaked details from his draft memoir rocked the president’s Senate impeachment trial. In the manuscript, Bolton claimed that
Trump told him critical military aid to Ukraine would be suspended until the country’s government announced investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden.
The revelation, just as the White House legal team was about to begin its defense of the president, triggered fresh Democratic calls that Bolton be called to give evidence. If true, the claim would undermine a key part of the White House defense: that the suspension of aid was separate from the request to investigate Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, who had worked for a Ukrainian energy company.
Trump quickly denied the claims.
“In fact, [Bolton] never complained about this at the time of his very public termination,” he tweeted. “If John Bolton said this, it was only to sell a book.”