A former top aide to John Bolton made a compelling case why the once-National Security Advisor to President Donald Trump should not release his tell-all book until after the 2020 election.
The New York Times reported on Sunday that Trump told Bolton in August that he wanted to put a hold on $391 million in military assistant until Ukraine agreed to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, as well as other alleged interference by Ukrainians in the 2016 election, according to an unpublished manuscript of Bolton’s book, due to be released in March.
Fred Fleitz, who describes himself as a friend of Bolton and served as his chief of staff in both the Trump and George W. Bush administrations, believes his former boss is setting a bad precedent if Bolton allows his book “The Room Where It Happened” to be published before the upcoming presidential election.
“Given the importance of protecting a president’s confidential discussions with his senior advisers, I strongly disagree with Bolton’s decision to release the book before the November presidential election and call on him to withdraw it from the publisher immediately,” Fleitz wrote in an Op-Ed for Fox News.
“Presidents must be able to candidly consult with their advisers without worrying they will leak these discussions to the press or obtain high-dollar book contracts to publish them,” he continued.
“A book by a former national security adviser ahead of a president’s reelection bid may set a dangerous precedent since it could discourage future presidents from seeking advice from expert advisers on sensitive national security matters.”
Fleitz offered the example of former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who stepped down from his post in the Obama administration in June 2011.
Gates waited until January 2014, after President Barack Obama’s re-election, to release his book “Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War,” which detailed what the former DOD secretary believed to be serious incompetence among the commander in chief’s national security team, including then-Vice President Joe Biden.
Fleitz wrote that the reason Gates waited was that he “did not want his internal knowledge of the workings of the Obama administration and his interactions with President Obama to affect the outcome of the 2012 presidential election.”
“Gates established a principled precedent on how senior advisers to presidents should write about their experiences,” Fleitz argued. “Given Ambassador Bolton’s long and distinguished record of government service, I believe it is vital that he follow this precedent.”
Conservative commentator Mark Levin sees the release of the alleged details from Bolton’s book manuscript as another example of a “politically timed leak,” which in the end really should have no bearing on Trump’s impeachment trial.
“If every word of this New York Times story is true, which I doubt as it’s another politically timed leak, how does this change anything? As a matter of FACT, there was no quid pro quo. And there’s still no evidence to the contrary,” Levin tweeted on Monday.
Levin is right. The phone transcript of Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky itself offers no evidence of a quid pro quo. Trump made no demands in order to have the aid released and in fact did not mention the funds at all.
It’s tough to have a quid pro quo demand if the other side does not even know what you want.
The $391 million was in fact released in mid-September after multiple senators, including Republicans Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Rob Portman of Ohio urged Trump to do so.
Ukraine did not open an investigation into the Bidens or make any public statements that it intended to launch one.
Further, both Zelensky and Ukraine’s foreign minister have stated on multiple occasions they felt no pressure to open a Biden probe.
“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 tweeted on Monday.
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. With that being said, the…
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 27, 2020
This eleventh-hour leak of Bolton’s book has the telltale signs of a Democratic attempt to sway the Senate vote on whether witnesses may be called during Trump’s impeachment trial.
It’s reminiscent of the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearing in September 2018, when Democrats understood they were losing the battle and then suddenly witnesses materialized alleging misconduct by the nominee.
Let’s not reward this conduct.
The Senate should send a strong message and vote against calling Bolton or any other new witness.
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