An NBC News report claims former national security adviser John Bolton recently “suggested” President Donald Trump’s so-called “financial interests” have led him to make foreign policy decisions that differ from those of the political establishment.
The article, published Tuesday afternoon, is co-authored by MSNBC anchor Stephanie Ruhle (pictured, left), who frequently flirted with the now-debunked conspiracy theory that the 2016 Trump campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 presidential election.
“According to six people who were there, Bolton also questioned the merits of Trump applying his business acumen to foreign policy, saying such issues can’t be approached like the win-or-lose edict that drives real estate deals: When one doesn’t work, you move on to the next,” Ruhle and her co-author Carol Lee write. “The description was part of a broader portrait Bolton outlined of a president who lacks understanding of the interconnected nature of relationships in foreign policy and the need for consistency, these people said.”
The report does not directly quote Bolton nor cite a particular decision by the president that may have been impacted by a personal interest.
Ruhle and Lee also report that Bolton “derided” Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, the daughter and son-in-law of President Trump, but provide no specifics. The former national security adviser is said to have praised the president’s tough stance against China and trade.
The article says sources present at the private speech in Miami do not remember Bolton mentioning Ukraine, the country at the center of House Democrats’ partisan impeachment inquiry, sparked by a so-called “whistleblower” who mischaracterized the president’s July 25 telephone call with President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Eric Ciaramella, a career CIA analyst whom Real Clear Investigations suggests is the likely so-called “whistleblower,” raised concerns with the intelligence community inspector general that President Trump pressured Zelensky to investigate allegations of corruption against former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, in exchange for U.S. military aide. Both presidents have denied any pressure was applied, and the White House released a transcript of the call as its evidence that no wrongdoing occurred.
Burisma Holdings, a large Ukrainian energy company dodged with allegations of corruption, paid Hunter Biden as much as $83,000 monthly as a member of its board — despite his lack of expertise in the energy sector — while his father was vice president. The elder Biden played a key role in forcing out former Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin as he was investigating the gas giant. The former vice president, now a 2020 White House contender, boasted to the Council of Foreign Relations last year that he had threatened to withhold $1 billion in U.S. aid unless the prosecutor was fired. Ciaramella, whole worked in both the Obama and Trump White Houses, was reportedly the guest of Biden at a State Department dinner in October 2016.
This report comes after Bolton’s lawyer sent a letter to House lawmakers on Friday, stating his client was “part of many relevant meetings and conversations” related to the impeachment inquiry.
Bolton’s counsel Charles Cooper made the revelation in a letter that suggests the foreign policy veteran will appear before Congress only if a judge orders him to do so.
The letter, addressed to the top lawyer for the House of Representatives, seeks to distinguish Bolton and former deputy Charles Kupperman from other current and former White House officials who have testified so far to impeachment investigators. The letter said that Bolton and Kupperman, unlike the other witnesses, provided direct advice to President Trump regularly and would be asked during any congressional appearance to disclose sensitive foreign policy and national security information.
“After all, Dr. Kupperman was the Deputy National Security Advisor to the President throughout the period to your inquiry,” the letter states. “The same is true, of course, of Ambassador Bolton, who was the National Security Advisor to the President, and who was personally involved in many of the events, meetings, and conversations about which you have already received testimony, as well as many relevant meetings and conversations that have not yet been discussed in the testimonies thus far.”
Kupperman was subpoenaed as part of the impeachment inquiry but sued House Democrats and the Trump administration. He asked a judge to decide which directive he must follow — one from Congress ordering him to testify, the other from the White House telling him not to. Bolton has not been subpoenaed. Lawmakers scheduled a Thursday interview with Bolton, but he did not show.
Cooper represents both Bolton and Kupperman.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.