Demands Grow for Bolton to Testify at Trump’s Impeachment Trial
WASHINGTON — The battle over witness testimony at President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial reached a fevered pitch Monday after a draft of a book from former national security adviser John Bolton was found to include passages that undercut the president’s defense.
Trump has repeatedly insisted he never tied the withholding of aid to Ukraine to a demand the country investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination.
But in Bolton’s forthcoming book he writes that Trump told him he wanted to withhold hundreds of millions of dollars in security aid from Ukraine until he received help with investigations into Biden.
Bolton’s book, “The Room Where It Happened; A White House Memoir,” is scheduled to be released March 17. The former national security adviser’s account of the conversation, first published in The New York Times, gave Democrats new fuel in their pursuit of sworn testimony from Bolton and other witnesses, a question expected to be taken up later this week by the Republican-led Senate.
Appearing on CNN Monday morning, Rep. Adam Schiff, who led the House impeachment inquiry, called Bolton’s account a test for the senators sitting as jurors in Trump’s impeachment trial.
“I don’t know how you can explain that you wanted a search for the truth in this trial and say you don’t want to hear from a witness who had a direct conversation about the central allegation in the articles of impeachment,” Schiff said.
The trial resumes Monday afternoon with arguments from Trump’s defense team, including reportedly, the first appearance at the trial by attorney Alan Dershowitz.
After the Times went online Sunday night Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Senate’s top Democrat, tweeted the story “suggests multiple top Trump administration officials knew the facts and deliberately misled Congress and the American people.”
This, he said, constituted “a massive White House cover-up.”
“It’s up to four Senate Republicans to ensure that John Bolton, Mick Mulvaney, and others with direct knowledge of President Trump’s actions testify in the Senate trial,” Schumer added.
Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, told reporters Monday that he thinks it is “increasingly likely” that more Republican senators will support hearing testimony from Bolton following the Times report.
Romney declined to say not whether he wanted to see Bolton’s manuscript itself or whether he wants to know who in the White House might have known about the contents of the manuscript beforehand.
“It’s important to be able to hear from John Bolton for us to be able to make an impartial judgment,” Romney said.
Later, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine became the second Republican senator to say that reports on Bolton’s book strengthen the case for witnesses in Trump’s impeachment trial.
“From the beginning, I’ve said that in fairness to both parties the decision on whether or not to call witnesses should be made after both the House managers and the President’s attorneys have had the opportunity to present their cases,” Collins said in a statement. “I’ve always said that I was likely to vote to call witnesses, just as I did in the 1999 Clinton trial. The reports about John Bolton’s book strengthen the case for witnesses and have prompted a number of conversations among my colleagues.”
Trump denied the claims in a series of tweets early Monday. “I NEVER told John Bolton that the aid to Ukraine was tied to investigations into Democrats, including the Bidens,” Trump said in a tweet. “In fact, he never complained about this at the time of his very public termination. If John Bolton said this, it was only to sell a book.”
Bolton acrimoniously left the White House a day before Trump ultimately released the Ukraine aid on Sept. 11. He has already told lawmakers that he is willing to testify, despite the president’s order barring aides from cooperating in the probe.
“Americans know that a fair trial must include both the documents and witnesses blocked by the President — that starts with Mr. Bolton,” the impeachment managers said in a statement.
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