During a private event Thursday in Austin, Texas, former National Security Adviser John Bolton praised five government officials who testified during the House impeachment inquiry, KXAN reports.
During a question-and-answer session, Bolton said Fiona Hill, Tim Morrison, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, Bill Taylor, and former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch all “acted in the best interest of the country as they saw it and consistent to what they thought our policies are.” He also said members of the Trump administration should “feel they’re able to speak their minds without retribution. The idea that somehow testifying to what you think is true is destructive to the system of government we have — I think, is very nearly the reverse — the exact reverse of the truth.”
Hill once served as President Trump’s top Russia adviser, and during her testimony debunked a conspiracy theory circulated by Trump supporters saying it was Ukraine, not Russia, that meddled in the 2016 presidential election. Morrison is a former senior White House national security official who said U.S. Ambassador to the E.U. Gordon Sondland told him he let a Ukrainian official know that military aid to the country would be unfrozen if leaders announced investigations into Democrats.
Taylor, the former acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, also testified that he was told aid to Ukraine was dependent upon the country publicly saying there would be investigations into election interference and former Vice President Joe Biden. Vindman, the director of European Affairs for the White House National Security Council, was on Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and reported to his superiors that Trump requested Zelensky open an investigation into Biden. Yovanovitch testified that she was the victim of a smear campaign orchestrated by Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, who wanted her removed from her post.
On Sunday, The New York Times reported that in his upcoming book, Bolton contradicts Trump’s claims that there was no quid pro quo with Russia. Democrats want him to testify during Trump’s impeachment trial, and the Senate is expected to vote on calling more witnesses on Friday. Catherine Garcia