Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.
Trump wants you to think the House never asked John Bolton to testify
The White House in fact blocked Bolton from testifying before Congress in the impeachment inquiry last fall.
Trump falsely claimed on Monday morning that the “Democrat controlled House never even asked” former national security adviser John Bolton to testify during its earlier impeachment inquiry, ignoring the chamber’s earlier request to Bolton to appear before lawmakers.
“The Democrat controlled House never even asked John Bolton to testify. It is up to them, not up to the Senate!” Trump tweeted.
The White House in fact blocked Bolton from testifying before the House of Representatives in the impeachment inquiry last fall, citing executive privilege. Impeachment investigators had requested in late October Bolton testify and had scheduled a deposition for him on Nov. 7, but the White House adviser did not show up.
Bolton at the time said he would only appear under court order, but later changed his mind and told lawmakers he would testify before Congress if subpoenaed.
Trump has since flip-flopped on the issue claiming at once that he would like for Bolton to testify to lawmakers and that it would be a threat to national security because Bolton “knows some of my thoughts, what I think about leaders […].”
Trump’s comments come as he faces increased scrutiny over a leaked manuscript of Bolton’s impending book, “The Room Where it Happened,” which is due out in mid-March.
According to the New York Times, which first reported on the manuscript over the weekend, Bolton claims in the book that Trump “wanted to continue freezing $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine until officials there helped with investigations into Democrats including the Bidens.”
As the Times noted, that claim undercuts Trump’s main impeachment defense, which argues that the aid was frozen over broader concerns about corruption and was not directly tied to Trump’s desire to force Ukraine to investigate his political opponents.
Trump was impeached in December on charges of obstruction and abuse of power in relation to his efforts to pressure Ukraine into announcing investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and a long-debunked conspiracy involving the Democratic National Committee.
He is currently on trial in the U.S. Senate and has repeatedly dismissed the charges as a partisan “hoax” and a “witch hunt.”
Most Republican senators have thus far rejected calls to have Bolton and other fact witnesses testify in the trial.
On Sunday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said that because Trump would seek to block witnesses in court, attempting to allow them would “throw the country into chaos.”
In the 1999 impeachment trial of Bill Clinton, Graham memorably said that the Senate could not get the whole truth without hearing from meaningful witnesses.
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) also said he would oppose allowing witness testimony because the Senate need not “prolong what’s already taken five months of the American people’s time.”
With all 47 members of the Senate Democratic Caucus likely to back witnesses, four Republicans would need to vote to allow witnesses at the impeachment trial. So far, fewer than that have indicated they will do so.
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