John Bolton Accused Trump's Chief of Staff of 'Cooking Up' a 'Drug Deal' in Ukraine

Testimony from a former top advisor revealed Bolton went "ballistic" after a July meeting about Ukraine
October 15, 2019, 1:57pm
Bolton had also called Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani a “hand grenade who’s going to blow everybody up,”

WASHINGTON — President Trump’s last National Security Advisor John Bolton went ballistic after a July meeting about Ukraine and said he wanted no part of a backdoor connection he derided as a “drug deal,” a former top official reportedly testified.

In 10 hours of testimony before House members Monday, Fiona Hill, Trump’s former top advisor on Russia and Europe, also revealed Bolton had called Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani a “hand grenade who’s going to blow everybody up,” according to The New York Times.

Hill testified that Giuliani ran a shadow foreign policy aimed at circumventing the normal channels of U.S. policy in a politically motivated gambit to personally benefit Trump, both the Times and The Washington Post reported, citing people in the room for her testimony.

Hill’s appearance is the latest in a string of blockbuster depositions in the House impeachment inquiry focused on whether Trump abused his power by trying to pressure Ukraine to investigate his 2020 Democratic rival Joe Biden.

‘Drug deal’

Hill told lawmakers about a meeting last summer involving multiple top Trump administration officials discussing Ukraine — and getting heated about it.

Bolton and Hill reportedly met in early July with Trump’s EU ambassador Gordon Sondland, former special envoy for Ukraine Kurt Volker and Energy Secretary Rick Perry. According to the Times, two Ukrainian officials were also present.

Sondland, who’s set to testify Thursday to House investigators, told the gathered officials that there were “investigations that were dropped that need to be started up again,” according to the Post.

Sondland said there was an agreement with Trump’s acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to arrange a meeting between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky if Ukraine opened up investigations, the Times reported.

Sondland’s comments prompted Bolton to go “ballistic,” the Post said.

Bolton reportedly told Hill to raise their concerns with White House lawyers about the backdoor diplomatic campaign by Giuliani, Sondland and Mulvaney.

“I am not part of whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up,” Hill recounted Bolton saying, according to two people present at her testimony cited by the Times.

Trump fired Bolton last month.

At one point Hill confronted Sondland, who had no formal role overseeing policy in Ukraine. Sondland told Hill the president had put him in charge of Ukraine, Hill told lawmakers, according to the Times.

Big impeachment week

Hill’s appearance Monday was just the first of a series of closed-door depositions on Capitol Hill in what’s shaping up to be the busiest week yet in the impeachment saga.

The Trump administration has fought to keep current and former officials from testifying, but haven’t been able to stop everyone, including former Ukraine ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, who testified last week. Trump referred to her as “bad news” in a July 25 call with Zelensky, and her abrupt recall to Washington last spring is a key moment in the impeachment inquiry.

This week, lawmakers hope to hear from:

Tuesday: George Kent, deputy assistant secretary of state

Wednesday: Michael McKinley, former senior advisor to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

Thursday: Gordon Sondland, EU Ambassador

Friday: Laura Cooper, deputy assistant secretary of defense

Cover: Former National security adviser John Bolton gestures while speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, Monday, Sept. 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)