WASHINGTON (AP) — National security adviser John Bolton was so alarmed by Rudy Giuliani's back-channel activities in Ukraine that he described President Donald Trump's personal lawyer as a "hand grenade who is going to blow everybody up," according to a former White House aide.
The aide, Fiona Hill, testified for more than 10 hours on Monday as part of the Democrats' impeachment probe into Trump's dealings with Ukraine. She detailed Bolton's concerns to lawmakers and told them that she had at least two meetings with National Security Council lawyer John Eisenberg about the matter at Bolton's request, according to a person familiar with the testimony who requested anonymity to discuss the confidential interview.
Those meetings took place in early July, weeks before a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in which Trump urged that Zelenskiy investigate political rival Joe Biden's family and Ukraine's own involvement in the 2016 presidential election.
A whistleblower complaint about that call, later made public, prompted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to launch the impeachment inquiry. Giuliani is Trump's personal lawyer and was heavily involved in the effort to pressure Ukraine on the investigations.
Hill, a top adviser on Russia, also referred to U.S. ambassador Gordon Sondland and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, the person said, telling the three committees leading the investigation that Bolton also told her he was not part of "whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up," an apparent reference to talks over Ukraine.
She quoted Bolton, whom Trump forced out last month, as saying in one conversation that Giuliani was "a hand grenade who's going to blow everybody up."
Sondland is expected to appear for a deposition under subpoena Thursday and will certainly be asked about those talks.
The interviews are among what could eventually become dozens of closed-door depositions in the impeachment probe. There are five more scheduled this week, mostly with State Department officials, though it is unclear if they will all appear after Trump declared he wouldn't cooperate with the probe.
On Tuesday, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent arrived on Capitol Hill to testify.
Sondland is expected to tell Congress that a text message released earlier this month reassuring another envoy that there was no quid pro quo in their interactions with Ukraine was based solely on what Trump told him, according to a person familiar with his coming testimony.
The cache of text messages was provided by one of the inquiry's first witnesses, former Ukrainian envoy Kurt Volker, and detailed attempts by the diplomats to serve as intermediaries around the time Trump urged Zelenskiy to start the investigations into a company linked to Biden's son.