Top White House officials, including Attorney General William Barr, challenged details that were leaked from an upcoming book from former National Security Adviser John Bolton, who was ousted last year.
Bolton allegedly told Barr he was worried that President Donald Trump was granting favors to the leaders of China and Turkey, an anonymously sourced report in The New York Times claimed. Bolton reportedly claimed that Barr responded that he was also concerned.
The conversation didn’t go as Bolton described, the Department of Justice said.
“There was no discussion of ‘personal favors’ or ‘undue influence’ on investigations, nor did Attorney General Barr state that the president’s conversations with foreign leaders was improper,” department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said in a statement late Monday.
“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.”
A lawyer for acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney also challenged claims that are apparently part of Bolton’s manuscript.
The book reportedly alleged that Mulvaney was present when Trump spoke with his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, about former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who was fired last year. No excerpts from the book were published by any of the outlets that reported on leaked details.
“John Bolton never informed Mick Mulvaney of any concerns surrounding Bolton’s purported August conversation with the president,” Mulvaney’s lawyer, Bob Driscoll, said in a statement.
“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.”
“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,” the statement said.
The statements came after Trump took to Twitter to rebut a Bolton allegation, writing: “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 added.
Bolton hasn’t denied the leaked details from his book but did deny coordinating with media outlets. An Amazon page that enabled pre-orders of the book, which will be published in March, went live just hours after the first story about book details.
“Ambassador John Bolton, Simon & Schuster, and Javelin Literary categorically state that there was absolutely no coordination with The New York Times or anyone else regarding the appearance of information about his book, THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENED, at online booksellers. Any assertion to the contrary is unfounded speculation,” a spokesperson for Bolton said in a statement.
Vice President Mike Pence’s office, meanwhile, also rebutted allegations that were recently floated.
Pence wasn’t aware of any link between pausing congressionally approved military aid to Ukraine and Trump asking Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to “look into” corruption allegations against former Vice President Joe Biden and Biden’s son, Hunter, the office said.
“As a matter of policy we don’t typically share or discuss conversations between the president and vice president, but given the journalistic fury over alleged conversations, the president has given me permission to set the record straight,” Pence’s spokesman Marc Short said in a statement.
“In every conversation with the president and the vice president in preparation for our trip to Poland, the president consistently expressed his frustration that the United States was bearing the lion’s share of responsibility for aid to Ukraine and that European nations weren’t doing their part. The president also expressed concerns about corruption in Ukraine.”
“At no time did I hear him tie aid to Ukraine to investigations into the Biden family or Burisma,” the statement added.
The corruption and burden sharing issues were the only ones that Pence discussed with Ukrainian officials, “because that’s what the president asked him to raise,” Short said.
Lev Parnas, a former associate of Giuliani, has claimed that Pence was told to go to Poland to meet with Zelensky in September 2019 to pressure Ukrainian leaders to investigate the Bidens. Parnas, who was indicted for campaign finance fraud last year, didn’t provide evidence for the claim.