The GOP has long supported Bolton but is now at war with the former national security adviser, whose new book contradicts a key Trump impeachment defense.
Congressional Republicans have taken aim at former national security adviser John Bolton over the past few days, suggesting new allegations leveled at Donald Trump in his upcoming book were made up to sell more copies.
Many members of those same House and Senate Republicans have long backed the hawkish Bolton and relied on his help for their campaigns.
Earlier this week, the New York Times obtained an unpublished manuscript of Bolton's book, which revealed Trump told Bolton in August that he "wanted to continue freezing $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine until officials there helped with investigations into Democrats including the Bidens [...]."
Republicans immediately went on the attack, with several members of Congress targeting Bolton himself for supposedly making up the allegations.
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), for instance, dismissed the new claim, saying Bolton's allegations had been "refused by the White House." He then suggested the manuscript had been leaked as part of a plot to manipulate Republican senators.
Meadows, a Trump impeachment team member, acknowledged that he didn't know whether the leak was from Bolton's team or someone else in the "Deep State." But in separate comments to reporters, he suggested "that it was to sell more books."
"Some have suggested that indeed the leak was designed to create chaos," he said.
Meadows previously backed Trump's decision to install Bolton as his national security adviser. "President Trump could not have made a better choice for National Security Advisor than @AmbJohnBolton," he tweeted in 2018. "He is excellent and will serve our country well."
"No human being is ever in a more hyperbolic state than when they’re pitching a book deal," Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz tweeted Monday. "John Bolton isn’t negotiating testimony, he’s negotiating the size of his advance."
But most House and Senate Republicans broadly and enthusiastically backed Trump's selection of Bolton to be national security adviser in March 2018. And many trumped his endorsements and relied on his backing to help their campaigns, despite the GOP's reluctance this week to listen to his new allegations.
Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY), who argued on Monday against the Senate even hearing new testimony from Bolton, said in 2018 that Bolton would "be a great National Security Adviser" as he is "Ridiculously knowledgeable" and a "Very underrated, amazing American."
Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC), for his part, described Bolton as "uniquely qualified to meet the demands of the job" and "a perfect fit" for Trump's team.
Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) each said Bolton was an "excellent choice," for national security adviser, and Sens. Todd Young (R-IN), David Perdue (R-GA), and Pat Roberts (R-KS) each also highlighted his support as a major endorsement for their most recent campaigns.
Bolton's new allegations directly contradict a key part of Trump's impeachment defense, namely Trump's insistence that the aid freeze was intended only to ensure Ukraine was properly fighting corruption. Bolton's manuscript proves that argument false, detailing how Trump demanded the country announce investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and a long debunked conspiracy involving the Democratic National Committee before it could receive any aid.
The House of Representatives impeached Trump last month on two counts, one for abuse of power related to his pressure campaign against Ukraine, and another for obstruction of Congress related to his efforts to block witness testimony in the House inquiry and withhold evidence.
The Government Accountability Office has since said the decision by the Trump administration to withhold previously appropriated congressional funding to Ukraine violated federal law.
Trump — who hired and fired Bolton — has repeatedly denied he did anything wrong, calling the impeachment proceedings against him a "hoax" and "witch hunt."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.