Sen. Bob Menendez Seeks Answers On Bolton Book Allegations

Sen. Bob Menendez, a ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is seeking answers from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on a series of allegations raised in former national security advisor John Bolton’s new book.

In his book, The Room Where It Happened, Bolton offers an insider account of the events that occurred in the West Wing regarding Ukraine leading to President Trump’s impeachment last year. The memoir was published despite objections from the White House, which claimed the book contains classified information.

In a June 23 letter to Pompeo, Menendez requested the Secretary of State specify “what actions he took as our nation’s chief diplomat to counter Trump on some of the key events reported in Bolton’s book.”

Book Raises Questions

“These accounts raise questions about what you have done to push back against the President’s efforts to subvert American foreign policy and national security to his personal political and business interests,” the senator said.

Menendez said he’s particularly interested in the assertion that Trump asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to help him win the 2020 election by boosting China’s purchase of agricultural products as part of trade negotiations.

Additionally, the New Jersey senator is seeking answers the President’s alleged promise to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that he would “take care of” a U.S. investigation into a Turkish firm under investigation for sanctions violations as well as the President’s wavering support for peacefully restoring democracy in Venezuela.

‘Obligation to Examine’

In his letter to Pompeo, Menendez said he believes the Senate Foreign Relations Committee “has an obligation to examine the questions raised by the allegations presented in the book.”

“The committee must also examine your role in this matter including what steps, if any, you took to advance the personal or electoral agenda of the President and what steps, if any, you took to protect and advance U.S. national security interests while the President was apparently pursuing a personal agenda,” he wrote.

Menendez called on Pompeo to address a series of questions by July 1 and publicly testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Questions for Pompeo

The senator’s June 23 letter contained the following questions for Pompeo:

China

  • What did you do to communicate to Chinese officials that U.S. elections should not be a factor in China trade negotiations?
  • In March 2019, you traveled to Iowa for a trip focused largely on China tariffs on agriculture. Did you communicate anything to the President related to electoral considerations as a result of that trip?
  • Did you take any steps to address President Trump’s October 2019 public call for China to investigate the Bidens?

Halkbank

  • Has the President asked you to take any action with respect to Halkbank or any ongoing U.S. law enforcement involving a Turkish bank? If so, what did you do in response?
  • In your October 2019 meeting with President Erdogan, was Halkbank discussed? What, if anything, did you communicate about the U.S. position with regard to Halkbank?
  • Did you take any steps to address the foreign policy channel that Jared Kushner established with the Turkish finance minister, who is also President Erdogan’s son-in-law?

Venezuela

  • Did you take action to convince the President that invading Venezuela would not be ‘cool’ or in the national security interest of the United States?
  • Did you take any steps to counter the President’s reported view that Juan Guaidó, recognized by the United States as the interim president of Venezuela and key to establishing democratic freedoms, was ‘weak’?

Foreign Interference

  • What steps have you taken to communicate to foreign counterparts that the U.S. government is not seeking any action, including policy change, trade incentives, or otherwise, to assist or bolster the President’s 2020 election prospects?”

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