WASHINGTON – Shortly after his ouster as President Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton told a top House Democrat to investigate the abrupt recall of former U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch from her post in Ukraine, according to that lawmaker.
During a Sept. 23 phone call, “Ambassador Bolton suggested to me – unprompted – that the committee look into the recall of Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch,” Rep. Eliot Engel, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement Wednesday.
“He strongly implied that something improper had occurred around her removal as our top diplomat in Kyiv,” Engel said.
Engel said he released the statement now because of a Trump tweet posted on Wednesday, suggesting Bolton never raised concerns about the Ukraine pressure campaign before the impeachment proceedings began.
“Why didn’t John Bolton complain about this ‘nonsense’ a long time ago, when he was very publicly terminated,” Trump tweeted on Wednesday. ‘He said, not that it matters, NOTHING.”
Engel said that’s not true, pointing to his Sept. 23 call with Bolton.
Engel’s statement suggests Bolton played a behind-the-scenes role in the House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry. It comes amid a fierce partisan clash over whether senators should call Bolton as a witness in Trump’s Senate impeachment trial.
The Bolton-Engel conversation came after allegations first emerged, in a Sept. 19 Washington Post story, that an unnamed whistleblower had filed a complaint about Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine for political favors.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., announced the House impeachment proceedings against Trump on Sept. 24, the day after Bolton and Engel spoke on the phone.
Yovanovitch is a central figure in the scandal. Trump ousted her from her post in Kyiv amid a smear campaign by his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. Democrats say Trump and Giuliani saw Yovanovitch as an impediment to their efforts to get Ukraine President Volodomyr Zelensky to open two investigations that would benefit Trump politically in his 2020 re-election campaign.