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Trump fires back at John Bolton over explosive Ukraine allegation in forthcoming book

'If John Bolton said this, it was only to sell a book'

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Donald Trump has strongly denied explosive allegations about his Ukraine dealings made by John Bolton, his former national security adviser, in a forthcoming book.

In a series of tweets published just after midnight Monday, Trump accused Bolton of parroting falsehoods to promote book sales.

"I NEVER told John Bolton that the aid to Ukraine was tied to investigations into Democrats, including the Bidens. 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," Trump said.

The New York Times reported late Sunday that Bolton claims in his book that Trump admitted to him last August that he wanted to continue freezing nearly $400 million in security assistance to Ukraine if the Ukrainian government did not cooperate with investigations into the Bidens.

Bolton's account undercuts the heart of Trump's impeachment defense and suggests the president engaged in a quid pro quo, or at least intended to do so.

According to the Times, Bolton also writes about the involvement of other top government officials.

For example, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo acknowledged privately that there was no basis to claims by the president's lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani that the ambassador to Ukraine was corrupt and believed Mr. Giuliani may have been acting on behalf of other clients, Mr. Bolton wrote.

Mr. Bolton also said that after the president's July phone call with the president of Ukraine, he raised with Attorney General William P. Barr his concerns about Mr. Giuliani, who was pursuing a shadow Ukraine policy encouraged by the president, and told Mr. Barr that the president had mentioned him on the call. A spokeswoman for Mr. Barr denied that he learned of the call from Mr. Bolton; the Justice Department has said he learned about it only in mid-August.

Speaking on "Fox & Friends" Monday, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham blamed the manuscript leak on Bolton's publisher, and said the timing was "suspect."

"It's very clear the president did nothing wrong. And then suddenly, this manuscript has magically appeared in the hands of the New York Times making very, very big claims. This is by a publisher — the same publisher that [James] Comey used, also," Grisham said, Politico noted. "And the fact that magically, again, you know, the book ordering online — pre-order link popped up a couple hours after all of this hit, you know, it's sad. But I think the timing is very suspect."

But Bolton's lawyer, Charles Cooper, blamed the leak on the White House. He told the New York Times that the White House has been in possession of Bolton's manuscript since Dec. 30, when it was turned over for review to determine if there was classified information in the manuscript, a routine procedure for books written by former government employees.

"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," he said.

Bolton's book, titled, "The Room Where It Happened," is scheduled to be released on March 17.

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