The U.S. Justice Department is denying aNew York Times report about former national security adviser John Bolton and Attorney General William Barr having concerns about President Donald Trump and perceptions he was granting personal favors to the leaders of China and Turkey.
"There was no discussion of 'personal favors' or 'undue influence' on investigations, nor did Attorney General Barr state that the President's conversations with foreign leaders was improper," Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec tweeted Tuesday.
DOJ statement in response to tonight’s NYT story on John Bolton and Attorney General Barr. pic.twitter.com/WzekTSqY0f
— KerriKupecDOJ (@KerriKupecDOJ) January 28, 2020
The Times based its story on descriptions of a manuscript of Bolton's upcoming book from people familiar with the text.
Bolton said that in private conversations with Barr, the attorney general discussed comments Trump made to Chinese President Xi Jinping about ZTE, a Chinese telecom company found by the U.S. Commerce Department to be violating sanctions by sending goods to Iran and North Korea. Trump lifted those sanctions after a personal appeal from Xi, drawing anger from Congress.
According to the Times report, Bolton said he and Barr also discussed a conversation between Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan about an investigation of Turkish bank Halkbank.
The Times said Bolton wrote that Barr was worried the exchanges made it seem as if Trump had undue influence over independent investigations.
The newspaper said the accounts described in Bolton's manuscript underscore the "unease about Mr. Trump's seeming embrace of authoritarian leaders" among experts, Trump opponents and among some senior cabinet officers responsible for the nation's foreign policy and national security agendas.
Revelations about the contents of the Bolton book come as U.S. Senators consider calling Bolton as a witness in Trump's impeachment trial.