A lawyer for White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney pushed back against reports that he was involved in discussions about holding hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Ukraine in exchange for investigations.
“John Bolton never informed Mick Mulvaney of any concerns surrounding Bolton’s purported August conversation with the president,” his lawyer, Bob Driscoll, said in a statement (pdf) on Monday. “Nor did Mr. Mulvaney ever have a conversation with the president or anyone else indicating that Ukrainian military aid was withheld in exchange for a Ukrainian investigation of Burisma, the Bidens, or the 2016 election.”
The statement remarked that the “latest story from the New York Times, coordinated with a book launch, has more to do with publicity than the truth.”
“Furthermore, Mr. Mulvaney has no recollection of any conversation with Mr. [Rudy] Giuliani resembling that reportedly described in Mr. Bolton’s manuscript, as it was Mr. Mulvaney’s practice to excuse himself from conversations between the President and his personal counsel to preserve any attorney-client privilege,” according to his statement.
The New York Times reported on a leaked excerpt from Bolton’s upcoming book, where it claimed Mulvaney was present when Trump spoke with Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, about former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who was fired last year. The NY Times did not include any excerpts from the book, which was apparently leaked to the press.
But the news report has increased pressure on senators to call witnesses in the impeachment trial of Trump, as Bolton has indicated that he would be willing to testify. On Monday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) again called on Bolton, Mulvaney, and other White House officials to testify.
Trump, on Twitter, wrote that he did not speak to Bolton about withholding aid to Ukraine and suggested the timing of the NY Times report was suspicious.
“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,” wrote Trump. He added: “Transcripts of my calls with President Zelensky are all the proof that is needed, in addition to the fact that President Zelensky & the Foreign Minister of Ukraine said there was no pressure and no problems.”
Several Republican senators, meanwhile, have told media outlets that they are willing to vote to compel testimony following the NY Times report on Bolton’s book.