Former WH Adviser John Bolton Urged Trump to Send Ukraine Money, but Trump Pushed Back

Former White House National Security Adviser John Bolton was among several alarmed administration officials who urged President Donald Trump to release the nearly $400 million in funds to Ukraine, The Washington Post reported.

State Department and Department of Defense officials received word of Trump's decision to withhold the aid on July 18, officials familiar with the meeting told the Post. According to three Trump administration officials speaking on the condition of anonymity, Trump ordered the money to Ukraine to be withheld one week before his July 25 call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, a 41-year-old actor and screenwriter who was inaugurated as president on May 20.

Bolton, who was ousted from the Trump administration earlier this month, wanted to unfreeze the U.S. aid to Ukraine in order to help the country push back against Russian aggressions in the region. Bolton and several other Trump administration officials said they did not know why the money to Ukraine was being withheld, while the president has insisted it was over concerns of "corruption" in the Ukrainian government. This stands in contrast to a whistleblower's claim Trump withheld the money as part of a quid pro quo to obtain damning information about former Vice President Joe Biden's son's dealings in the country.

Multiple sources claimed to The Daily Beast after Bolton's disputed firing or resignation earlier this month that he has "a lot of dish" and is shopping a book deal. The public dispute over whether Bolton resigned or was fired was not the first disagreement between Trump and his former adviser, with whom the president said he disagreed with on foreign policy on numerous occasions. On September 9, Bolton said he "offered to resign," but Trump tweeted the next day that he had informed Bolton his services were no longer needed and had fired him.

Zelensky expressed concerns to Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy during a meeting in September that "the aid that was being cut off to Ukraine by the president was a consequence" for not launching an investigation into the Bidens and their alleged dealings within the country.

Trump has reiterated his claim there is "a lot of corruption in Ukraine" and that is the reason behind his withholding of the money. "It's very important to talk about corruption," Trump told reporters Monday. "If you don't talk about corruption, why would you give money to a country that you think is corrupt?"

The nearly $400 million was ultimately released after Illinois Democratic Senator Dick Durbin threatened to freeze $5 billion in Pentagon funding unless the Ukraine finances were distributed.

Trump has long pushed an "America First" foreign aid policy and has frequently complained that countries receive millions in financial aid and "do nothing for us."

Earlier this month, a foreign policy directive issued by Trump sought to shift the distribution of foreign aid to "friends and allies" and countries that "support" the goals of America. In January, Trump complained to cabinet members about the current budget for foreign aid sitting at $54.4 billion, which the president described as "a lot."

"We're giving away $54 billion in foreign aid. So we give money to countries, but we don't give money to our own country, which is another thing that I've been complaining about," Trump said in January. "[Democrats] don't even know who they're giving it to."

"It's very unfair when we give money to Guatemala and to Honduras, and to El Salvador, and they do nothing for us," Trump said.

Speaking outside of the United Nations on Monday, Trump said "Europe and other countries should contribute to Ukraine. Europe has to put up money for Ukraine also, why is it only the United States putting up that money?"

"Germany, France, other countries should put up the money," Trump continued, insisting the money to Ukraine had already been "fully" paid. "We're putting up bulk of the money, why is that?"

John Bolton
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media as National Security Adviser John Bolton listens during a meeting with President of Romania Klaus Iohannis in the Oval Office of the White House August 20, 2019 in Washington, DC. Alex Wong/Getty