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Bolton breaks silence and hints he has a lot more to say about Ukraine



  • Former national security adviser John Bolton spoke publicly — for the first time since the start of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump — at a lecture on Monday at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.
  • On multiple occasions, he referred to his upcoming book, “The Room Where it Happened,” according to reports, but did not delve into the substance of the manuscript.
  • When asked about the July 25 call between Trump and the president of Ukraine, he said, “You’ll love chapter 14.” He also referred to the subject of Ukraine in his book as “sprinkles on the ice cream sundae.”
  • The manuscript — parts of which were previously reported on by The New York Times — is under review by the NSC, which said in a January letter that it contains “TOP SECRET level” classified information.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

“You’ll love chapter 14,” former national security adviser John Bolton said during his first public talk since the start of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

Bolton, The Atlantic reported, had been asked if the now-infamous July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was “perfect,” as Trump describes it. During the call, which prompted a whistleblower complaint, Trump asked Zelensky to do him “a favor” and discussed former Vice President Joe Biden and a debunked conspiracy theory into the 2016 election.

“For all the focus on Ukraine and impeachment trial: To me there are portions of the manuscript that deal with Ukraine,” Bolton said during the talk, CNN reported. “I view that like the sprinkles on the ice cream sundae, meaning, in terms of what’s in the book.”

Bolton, who left the White House in September of 2019, gave a lecture on Monday at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. Ukraine was one of the topics discussed, and his responses referenced the manuscript for his book, “The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir.”

“I say things in the manuscript about what he said to me,” Bolton said during the talk, Bloomberg News reported. “I hope they become public someday. He tweets but I can’t talk about it. How fair is that?”

Bolton’s book is scheduled to come out on March 17, however, it’s currently undergoing a review by the National Security Council.

In a letter dated January 23, the White House wrote to Bolton’s lawyer saying that “the book appears to contain significant amounts of classified information. It also appears that some of this classified information is at the TOP SECRET level.” The White House also wrote that due to Bolton’s nondisclosure agreement, “the manuscript may not be published or otherwise disclosed without the deletion of this classified information.”

In early February, a spokeswoman for Bolton acknowledged they had an update from the NSC, and according to CNN, she noted “serious concerns that the process has been thoroughly breached and that it is more about suppressing Ambassador Bolton’s book than about classification issues.”

Bolton said on Monday that he did not intend to share classified information and added that he hopes the book is “not suppressed,” Bloomberg News reported.

“This is an effort to write history, and I did it the best I can,” he added, “We’ll have to see what comes out of the censorship.”

Former U.S. national security advisor John Bolton speaks during his lecture at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, U.S. February 17, 2020.   REUTERS/Jonathan Drake

Former national security advisor John Bolton in Durham, North Carolina


As an unpublished manuscript, the book has already made waves, and suggests that Bolton may know more about Trump’s alleged efforts in Ukraine, which prompted an impeachment inquiry, the passage of two articles of impeachment against Trump in the House, and a trial in the Senate that led to his acquittal. Trump has denied any wrongdoing.

According to a New York Times story about the manuscript, published during the impeachment trial in the Senate, Bolton wrote that Trump told him of his plans to hold nearly $400 in congressionally-mandated military aid to Ukraine until Zelensky agreed to announce investigations into Trump’s political rivals.

At the time it added pressure on Republican senators to vote in favor of calling witnesses to speak at the trial, like Bolton, who said he would have testified if subpoenaed by the Senate.

Trump denied The Times report in a series of tweets, saying in part, “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.”

Republicans in the Senate ultimately blocked witnesses from testifying and earlier this month the Senate voted to acquit Trump on two articles of impeachment — obstruction of Congress, and abuse of power.

In addition to hinting more about Ukraine, Bolton discussed his misgivings about the Trump administration’s approach to North Korea.

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