The White House blocked a recommendation to approve trade privileges for Ukraine in August, suggesting that the effort to pressure the country to investigate the Bidens may have extended beyond blocked military aid.
In August, Trump trade adviser Robert Lighthizer recommended that Ukraine have its trade privileges restored after the were suspended in 2018 over an intellectual property issue. The recommendation was blocked by then-national security adviser John Bolton, who told him that Trump would likely oppose any action that helped Ukraine, The Washington Post reports.
The incident took place just weeks after Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which he pressed Zelensky to probe the Bidens and Ukraine’s involvement in the 2016 election.
Bill Taylor, Trump’s envoy to Ukraine, testified to lawmakers this week that a National Security Council official told him that “the president doesn’t want to provide any assistance at all.”
Dems want Bolton to testify:
Democrats are negotiating with Bolton’s lawyers to set a date for him to testify behind closed doors in the impeachment probe, The New York Times reported.
Bolton has come up repeatedly in the impeachment testimony thus far.
Taylor testified this week that Bolton grew “so irritated” by the linking of “investigations” and a meeting Zelensky sought with Trump that he abruptly ended a July White House meeting about Ukraine and warned aides “they should have nothing to do with domestic politics.”
Former Bolton aide Fiona Hill testified that Bolton instructed her to report a conversation in which Trump’s EU ambassador linked the meeting to an investigation into the Bidens to White House lawyers.
“I am not part of whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up,” Bolton told Hill.
“Giuliani’s a hand grenade who’s going to blow everybody up,” he warned her in another exchange.
Did Biden enter China trade talks?
CNN’s Jim Sciutto questioned White House trade adviser Peter Navarro on whether the Biden issue entered the China trade talks after Trump publicly called for China to look into Hunter Biden.
"Did you bring up investigating the Bidens as part of the negotiations?" Sciutto asked.
“You don’t have a right to know what happens behind closed doors in the administration,” Navarro said.
“I think the American people have a right to know if politics have entered trade negotiations,” Sciutto pressed.
"It's not an appropriate question in my judgment, OK," Navarro said. "I'm not going to talk about that stuff. If I answer that question then you'll ask me another question.”