The Department of Justice said in a statement Monday night that a report based on John Bolton’s new book about a conversation the former national security adviser had last year with Attorney General William Barr about President Trump’s relationship with foreign leaders “grossly” mischaracterized the exchange.
The New York Times reported that it obtained a manuscript of Bolton’s book “The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir,” and published reports about it during Trump’s Senate impeachment trial. The paper, citing the manuscript, reported that Bolton raised concerns to Barr that the president was granting personal favors to Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan and China’s Xi Jinping.
Barr agreed to an extent with Bolton and said Trump created the appearance that he held excessive influence over investigations by the DOJ into some companies in these countries, the report said. The manuscript’s claim could bolster Trump critics who say the president is too warm with dictators.
The DOJ said it did not review the manuscript but said there was never any discussion about Trump’s “undue influence” on investigations, “nor did Attorney General Barr state that the President’s conversations with foreign leaders was improper.”
“If this is truly what Mr. Bolton has written, then it seems he is attributing to Attorney General Barr his own current views – views with which Attorney General Barr does not agree,” the statement read.
Within hours of the first report, a pre-order link was posted for the book.
“Why didn’t John Bolton testify to the US House? Apparently his book wasn’t quite finished yet for presales!” Sen. Rand Paul tweeted.
Since leaving his post, Bolton has avoided publicly commenting on his time in the administration, instead quietly writing the 528-page book, which is set to be published on March 17.
But the book, according to the Times, appears to be potentially damaging to Trump and threatens to give Democratic Senators some momentum in their push for trial witnesses.
The Times reported that the manuscript claims that Trump indeed ordered the Ukrainian aid to be held until Kiev agreed to investigate the Bidens and other Democrats.
Bolton, who according to a witness had called Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani a “hand grenade” and said a meeting about the White House’s pressure on Ukraine tantamount to a “drug deal,” has said he would be willing to testify if subpoenaed and has relevant information.
Alan Dershowitz, the Harvard Law professor, delivered a constitutional defense of Trump Monday at his impeachment trial and flatly turned toward House impeachment managers and declared they had picked “dangerous” and “wrong” charges against the president — noting that neither “abuse of power” nor “obstruction of Congress” was remotely close to an impeachable offense as the framers had intended.
“Nothing in the Bolton revelations, even if true, would rise to the level of an abuse of power, or an impeachable offense,” Dershowitz said. “That is clear from the history. That is clear from the language of the Constitution. You cannot turn conduct that is not impeachable into impeachable conduct simply by using terms like ‘quid pro quo’ and ‘personal benefit.'”
Fox News’ Gregg Re contributed to this report