Former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly said he believes former national security adviser John Bolton’s assertion that President Donald Trump withheld aid from Ukraine to pressure that country into announcing an investigation of Joe Biden.
“If John Bolton says that in the book, I believe John Bolton,” Kelly told the crowd at a lecture series in Sarasota, Florida, on Monday.
Bolton’s accusation has become the latest twist in the Senate impeachment trial. A draft of his new book, obtained by The New York Times, says that Trump told Bolton last August that he wanted to freeze nearly $400 million in congressionally approved military assistance to Ukraine until the country agreed to investigate the former vice president and current Democratic presidential candidate.
Bolton’s manuscript also says that he raised alarms about Trump’s coziness with the authoritarian leaders of China and Turkey and discussed his concerns with Attorney General William Barr.
Kelly once told at least one other person that he didn’t care what Trump did that might lead to the president’s impeachment, because then “at least this chapter of American history would come to a close,” Politico reported in August 2018.
A retired Marine general, Kelly served Trump as secretary of homeland security and then White House chief of staff for two years before leaving the administration in December 2018.
Trump has predictably denied all wrongdoing, tweeting on Monday that he “NEVER told John Bolton that the aid to Ukraine was tied to investigations into Democrats, including the Bidens.”