Rudy Giuliani said this week that John Bolton was a “backstabber” who should not testify in the Senate impeachment trial despite reports that the former national security adviser recalls President Donald Trump tying withheld Ukraine aid to an investigation into a political rival.
Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney who is integral to the allegations against the president, gave the bitter assessment of Bolton in an interview with “CBS This Morning” that aired Wednesday.
“He never said to me, ‘I’ve got a problem with what you are doing in Ukraine,’” Giuliani told CBS’s Catherine Herridge. “Never once, never winked, never sent me a little note. He is a personal friend, I thought. So here’s the only conclusion I can come to, and it’s a harsh one, and I feel very bad about it: He’s a backstabber.”
When Herridge noted the seriousness of putting such a label on a former White House official, Giuliani responded: “It’s not serious. It’s true.”
“If your friend was complaining about you behind your back and didn’t have the guts to come up to your face and tell you, ‘I think you’re screwin’ up, Catherine,’ that’d be a backstabber,” the former New York City mayor said. “That’s classic backstabber. So I feel I got a swamp character here.”
According to a New York Times report from earlier this week, Bolton wrote in a draft of his upcoming book that Trump told him he wanted to continue freezing nearly $400 million in congressionally approved military aid to Ukraine until the country agreed to announce an investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden. Tying the two actions together would reveal that the president attempted a quid pro quo with a foreign government for political advantage.
“I find his testimony about the president pretty close to incredible,” Giuliani said. “I can’t imagine that the president of the United States said that to him.”
Giuliani also said he maintains regular contact with Trump and can’t be part of the president’s impeachment defense team at the Senate trial because he’s a “possible witness.”
Bolton sent an unpublished manuscript to the White House for review in December as required of former administration officials writing books, and he has denied leaking the draft to the Times. WBUR reported Tuesday that Trump’s legal team said nobody outside the National Security Council has reviewed the manuscript. Trump himself denied Bolton’s reported account.
Part of Bolton’s reported recollections included Giuliani himself. According to the Times, Bolton alleged that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo privately admitted there was no basis to Giuliani’s claims that ousted U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch was corrupt. Bolton also reportedly wrote that acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney was present for at least one phone call in which Trump and Giuliani discussed Yovanovitch.
Bolton also wrote that he expressed concern regarding Giuliani’s shadow diplomacy role with Attorney General William Barr after Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, when the alleged political “favor” was requested, according to the Times.
The revelations led Democrats to repeat their demands for witnesses in the Senate trial, as Bolton’s potential testimony could bolster House managers’ argument that the president abused the power of his office to further his own political interests.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) privately conceded to fellow GOP senators late Tuesday that Republicans do not yet have the votes to block Democrats from summoning Bolton or other witnesses. With a 53-47 majority in the Senate, Republicans can afford to lose only three senators in a potential vote to call more witnesses.
Hayley Miller contributed reporting.