Fred Fleitz, a former chief of staff to John Bolton, urged the former national security adviser on Monday to delay publication of his memoir until after the November election, asserting that a tell-all book would “set a dangerous precedent” by discouraging future presidents from seeking advice from their top national security staff.
“Given the importance of protecting a president’s confidential discussions with his senior advisers, I strongly disagree with Bolton’s decision to release the book before the November presidential election and call on him to withdraw it from the publisher immediately,” Fleitz wrote in a Fox News op-ed.
The New York Times reported Sunday that a manuscript of Bolton’s forthcoming book claims that President Trump told him in an August 2019 conversation that he was withholding military aid to Ukraine in order to force officials there to cooperate with investigations into Joe Biden and other political opponents.
The allegation undercuts one of Trump’s defenses at his Senate impeachment trial. Trump has insisted that he withheld a nearly $400 million aid package to Ukraine over concerns about corruption there, and also because the U.S. was contributing too much compared to European nations.
Democrats called for the Senate to vote to invite Bolton to testify at President Trump’s impeachment trial, which began its second week on Monday. Senate Republicans had hoped to complete the trial this week without calling witnesses, but two moderate Republicans, Mitt Romney and Susan Collins, said on Monday that the leaks of Bolton’s book made them more likely to vote for witnesses.
Fleitz, who served as Bolton’s chief of staff in 2018, said that he does not know what is in the book, which will be published on March 17.
“If a manuscript of this sensitivity was to be published at all, this should happen after the election, not in the spring of 2020,” said Fleitz, who was also Bolton’s chief of staff at the State Department from 2001 to 2005.
“I don’t understand the need for a former National Security Adviser to publish a tell-all book critical of a president he served, especially during a presidential reelection campaign that will determine the fate of the country,” Fleitz continued.
“There will be a time for Bolton to speak out without appearing to try to tip a presidential election.”
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