BBC Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis found herself in a tense on-air clash with Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton last night.
An agitated Bolton repeatedly told Maitlis to “let me finish” as he answered her questions about why he did not appear at president Donald Trump’s impeachment trial.
She told him: “You were given the chance to testify at his impeachment.
“You were begged to do your duty as a citizen. You refused to tell the American people what you saw and what you knew.”
But Bolton replied: “You’re absolutely wrong about that. There’s a history here that I’d be delighted to lay out although I’m sure you won’t broadcast it here because it’s too complicated.”
As Maitlis began to speak over him, the former adviser warned her: “Let me finish. Let me finish, OK?”
Bolton insisted he tried to move Trump in a “better direction” and resigned in protest when he was unable to.
“I was worried about him endangering American security,” he said.
“That’s why I tried to move his policies in better directions and why, ultimately, when I concluded I couldn’t do that, I resigned.”
He then continued to admonish Maitlis, telling her: “Will you let me finish? Will you let me finish my answer?” – before explaining: “The House of Representatives never issued a subpoena for me.
“And when they issued a subpoena for my former deputy, the White House ordered him not to testify.”
The House of Representatives (the lower chamber in US politics) approved two articles of impeachment for abuse of power and obstruction of power by Trump in 2019, but the decision was later struck down in the Senate (the upper house).
Bolton refused to give evidence in the impeachment inquiry, with some opponents claiming he instead saved his information for a tell-all book that was published in June – despite efforts by the US Justice Department to block its release.
The book, which details Bolton’s 17 months as Trump’s national security adviser, contains descriptions of conversations with foreign leaders that could be seen as politically damaging to the president.
Those include accounts that Trump tied military aid for Ukraine to that country’s willingness to conduct investigations into Democratic rival Joe Biden and Biden’s son Hunter, and that Trump asked China’s President Xi Jinping to help his re-election prospects.