House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.) said Bolton told him to look into the removal of former ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch during a phone conversation less than a week after Bolton’s departure from the White House.
In a statement released Wednesday, Engel described the conversation publicly for the first time, saying it shows the importance of calling Bolton as a witness during the Senate trial.
Engel also said his phone conversation with Bolton directly contradicts Trump’s claim that Bolton did not say anything about the “Trump-Ukraine scandal” at the time he was fired. Yovanovitch’s removal is a pivotal event in the story of Trump’s unconventional foreign policy toward Ukraine and was considered a victory by his personal attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani.
“On September 19, shortly after Ambassador Bolton’s departure as national security advisor, my staff reached out to him at my request,” Engel said in his statement, noting that he has known Bolton for years and wanted to “thank him for his service.”
“I also wanted to ask if he would talk to the Foreign Affairs Committee, as former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson did, to aid our general oversight efforts of U.S. foreign policy,” Engel stated.
The call took place on Sept. 23, according to the statement.
During the conversation, “Ambassador Bolton suggested to me — unprompted — that the committee look into the recall of Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch,” Engel said. “He strongly implied that something improper had occurred around her removal as our top diplomat in Kyiv.”
Engel said he alerted colleagues on the Foreign Affairs, Intelligence and Oversight panels that led the House inquiry into Trump’s dealings with Ukraine and that Bolton’s remark was “one of the reasons we wished to hear from [him], under oath, in a formal setting.”
“Ambassador Bolton has made clear over the last few months that he has more to say on this issue. And now that the President has called his credibility into question, it’s important to set the record straight,” Engel said, urging the Senate to call Bolton as a witness.