New Bolton bombshell: Trump asked his own national security adviser to help shake down Ukraine
John Bolton appears on CNN (screen grab)

The New York Times is reporting that former national security adviser John Bolton will claim in his upcoming book that President Donald Trump personally asked him to help shake down the Ukrainian government in exchange for dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden.

Specifically, the Times reports, Bolton writes that in May 2018 Trump directly instructed him "to help with his pressure campaign to extract damaging information on Democrats from Ukrainian officials."

According to Bolton, the president asked him to call up Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and ask him to work with personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, who was leading the effort to dig up dirt on Biden. Bolton writes that he never called Zelensky.

Bolton also writes that multiple Trump allies and officials were in the room when the president made his request, including Giuliani, chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, and attorney Pat Cipollone, who is now defending the president at his Senate impeachment trial.

Giuliani, however, denies that any such conversation ever took place.

"In a brief interview, Mr. Giuliani... said those discussions with the president were always kept separate," the Times reports. "He was adamant that Mr. Cipollone and Mr. Mulvaney were never involved in meetings related to Ukraine."