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New York Times: Bolton book manuscript says Trump directed him to help with Ukraine pressure campaign in early May

Posted at 11:10 AM, Jan 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-31 13:16:08-05

President Donald Trump directed his former national security adviser John Bolton to help with his pressure campaign in Ukraine to dig up dirt on Democrats in early May last year, according to a draft manuscript by Bolton reported on by The New York Times.

According to Bolton's account, Trump told him to call Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to make sure the newly elected leader would meet with his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, the Times reported.

On Friday, Trump denied the allegation in a statement provided to the Times.

"I never instructed John Bolton to set up a meeting for Rudy Giuliani, one of the greatest corruption fighters in America and by far the greatest mayor in the history of N.Y.C., to meet with President Zelensky," Trump said. "That meeting never happened."

CNN has not seen a copy of the draft manuscript. The report would be the earliest known instance of Trump actively trying to exert political pressure on Ukraine in order to find damaging information on his political opponents, which is the focus of the impeachment trial. In July, Trump pressured the Ukrainian President to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden.

Bolton writes that he never made the call to Zelensky, the Times reports.

He claims Trump's request came during an Oval Office conversation that included Giuliani, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, and the White House counsel Pat Cipollone, according to the Times.

Giuliani denied the report to the Times, and neither Bolton, a representative for Mulvaney, nor the White House immediately responded to requests for comment to the paper.

The Times had previously reported that Bolton alleges in his forthcoming book that Trump told him over the summer that he wanted to continue holding military aid to Ukraine until the country helped with investigations into his political rivals.

A source with direct knowledge of the manuscript has told CNN the newspaper's telling of Bolton's discussion with Trump is accurate.