Former National Security Adviser John Bolton listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a cabinet meeting at the White House on April 9, 2018, in Washington. (AP/Vucci) Former National Security Adviser John Bolton listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a cabinet meeting at the White House on April 9, 2018, in Washington. (AP/Vucci)

Former National Security Adviser John Bolton listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a cabinet meeting at the White House on April 9, 2018, in Washington. (AP/Vucci)

Bill McCarthy
By Bill McCarthy January 27, 2020

Trump falsely claims House Democrats never asked Bolton to testify

If Your Time is short

  • The House asked Bolton to appear voluntarily for a deposition on Nov. 7.
  • Bolton declined to testify at the White House's directive, and the House never subpoenaed him.
  • Bolton later said he'd testify in the Senate trial if subpoenaed.

President Donald Trump falsely claimed that House Democrats never sought former National Security Adviser John Bolton’s testimony as part of their impeachment inquiry.

"The Democrat controlled House never even asked John Bolton to testify," Trump said in a Jan. 27 tweet. "It is up to them, not up to the Senate!"

The House did ask Bolton to testify on Nov. 7. But Bolton, who left his post in September, declined to do so at the White House’s directive. The White House successfully blocked a number of officials from testifying or producing documents relevant to the House’s investigation.

Bolton signaled that he would testify only if he were subpoenaed and if a court ruled that he should obey the subpoena over the White House’s instructions.

Bolton’s lawyers said he would sign on to a lawsuit filed by his deputy, Charles Kupperman, who asked a court for guidance after he received a subpoena from the House and an order from the White House not to comply. 

Many of the witnesses who did testify, such as Fiona Hill, the White House’s former top Russia expert, did so in defiance of the White House's orders.

Ultimately, House Democrats elected not to subpoena Bolton or take the issue up in court, saying it would create unnecessary delays. Instead, they withdrew their subpoena to Kupperman and documented Trump’s efforts to block cooperation in an article of impeachment alleging obstruction of Congress.

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Subsequently, a federal judge dismissed Kupperman’s lawsuit, declaring it moot because the House had given up on pursuing his testimony. 

Then, in a Jan. 6 statement, Bolton said he would be willing to testify if subpoenaed in the Senate trial. He said he came to the decision on his own because the lawsuit’s dismissal meant he would not get the court guidance he was seeking before the trial wraps up.

Trump’s false claim that the House "never even asked" Bolton to testify came on the heels of a major New York Times report about the former national security adviser’s forthcoming book. 

According to the report, Bolton wrote in a draft copy of his book that Trump told him in August that he wanted to continue withholding military aid from Ukraine until the country announced investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden.

Trump denied the report’s account on Twitter. "I NEVER told John Bolton that the aid to Ukraine was tied to investigations into Democrats, including the Bidens," he wrote.

The White House and Trump campaign did not respond to requests for comment in time for publication.

Our ruling

Trump said, "The Democrat controlled House never even asked John Bolton to testify."

The House asked Bolton to appear voluntarily for a deposition on Nov. 7. He did not, saying that he would only appear if he were subpoenaed and if a court ruled that he should.

We rate Trump’s statement False.

Our Sources

Donald J. Trump on Twitter, Jan. 27, 2020

Donald J. Trump on Twitter, Jan. 27, 2020

The New York Times, "Trump Tied Ukraine Aid to Inquiries He Sought, Bolton Book Says," Jan. 27, 2020

John Bolton PAC, "Statement of John R. Bolton," Jan. 6, 2020 

United States District Court for the District of Columbia, Memorandum Opinion in Charles M. Kupperman v. United States House of Representatives, Dec. 30, 2019

House Judiciary Committee, Articles of Impeachment against President Donald J. Trump, Dec. 10, 2019

The Wall Street Journal, "House Investigators Decide Not to Subpoena John Bolton," Nov. 7, 2019

Email from Charles J. Cooper to House Intelligence Committee, Oct. 30, 2019

The White House, Letter from White House Counsel Pat Cipollone to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Reps. Elijah Cummings, Adam Schiff and Eliot Engel, Oct. 8, 2019

PolitiFact, "White House snubbed House’s document requests, Democrat says," Dec. 19, 2019

PolitiFact, "Read the House Intelligence Committee's full impeachment report," Dec. 3, 2019

PolitiFact, "Timeline — The Trump Impeachment Inquiry," Oct. 3, 2019

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Trump falsely claims House Democrats never asked Bolton to testify

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