Democratic Congressman Says John Bolton 'Strongly Implied Something Improper' Occurred Around Ambassador Yovanovitch's Ukraine Removal

Former national security adviser John Bolton issued a warning about the removal of Marie Yovanovitch from her ambassador's post in Ukraine before he was ousted from the Trump administration, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel said Wednesday.

"President [Donald] Trump is wrong that John Bolton didn't say anything about the Trump-Ukraine Scandal at the time the President fired him. He said something to me," said Engel, a New York Democrat, in a press release.

Trump had earlier complained on Twitter that Bolton did not speak out about "this 'nonsense' a long time ago, when he was very publicly terminated."

Why didn’t John Bolton complain about this “nonsense” a long time ago, when he was very publicly terminated. He said, not that it matters, NOTHING!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 29, 2020

Engel's announcement that Bolton had indeed communicated with his office regarding allegations stemming from the Ukraine scandal appears to contradict Trump's objection. In recent weeks, leaked information from the manuscript of Bolton's forthcoming tell-all book has thrust him into the center of the Senate's impeachment trial.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment about Engel's statement.

According to reports, Bolton's book will give details about Trump's involvement in the Ukraine affair, including an allegation that Trump ordered a freeze on military aid until the Eastern European country announced an investigation into Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

Bolton's book will also reportedly state that Trump's secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, conceded that Rudy Giuliani's campaign against Yovanovitch, then the Ukraine ambassador, was baseless. Bolton is expected to further allege that Pompeo speculated that Giuliani, Trump's personal lawyer, may have wanted to oust her because she was scrutinizing his clients as part of an anti-corruption campaign.

Engel's statement recalls that Bolton disclosed his concerns about the circumstances surrounding Yovanovitch's removal at the time he left the Trump administration.

"On September 19, shortly after Ambassador Bolton's departure as national security advisor, my staff reached out to him at my request. I've known Ambassador Bolton for years; we have a cordial and respectful relationship and I wanted to thank him for his service," Engel said.

"He and I spoke by telephone on September 23. On that call, Ambassador Bolton suggested to me—unprompted—that the committee look into the recall of Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. He strongly implied that something improper had occurred around her removal as our top diplomat in Kyiv," Engel added.

A battle between Democrats and Republicans, and within the GOP, has erupted on Capitol Hill over the prospect of calling Bolton as a witness in the Senate's impeachment trial. The White House and Republicans have discouraged the Senate from issuing a subpoena to Bolton to appear as a witness, although Majority Leader Mitch McConnell may not be able to wrangle enough votes to block the move.

Additionally, the White House is pursuing avenues to quash disclosures from Bolton's book, The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir, reportedly sending a letter to Bolton's attorney warning against its publication. The White House alleges that it contains "significant amounts of classified information."

John Bolton
National security adviser John Bolton answers journalists' questions after his meeting with Belarus' president in Minsk on August 29, 2019. SERGEI GAPON/Getty