GOP senators say they need to review Bolton book in secret to decide if he should testify

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Republicans are still struggling with how to deal with explosive revelations from John Bolton.

As pressure mounts to have former national security adviser John Bolton testify in Donald Trump's impeachment trial, a pair of Republican senators is proposing an idea to stall and possibly block Bolton from speaking publicly about his knowledge of the Ukraine scandal.

In a forthcoming memoir about his time in the Trump White House, Bolton says Trump told him that he was withholding congressionally appropriated military aid to Ukraine until the country's leadership announced an investigation into his political rivals. That is exactly what Democrats charge Trump with doing, calling that quid pro quo an abuse of power.

Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and James Lankford (R-OK) suggested a deal that would allow senators to review Bolton's book in a classified setting before deciding on whether to have him testify.

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Lankford was the first to suggest allowing senators to review Bolton's book manuscript in a classified setting to determine whether he should be called as a witness. (Bolton submitted his book to the National Security Council for classification review ahead of the book's scheduled March 17 public release date.)

"That's a minimum amount that we should actually be able to get and I am encouraging the White House, anybody that I can talk to to say: That manuscript is pertinent and we should get access to that manuscript to see what they're actually saying," Lankford told the Oklahoman Monday.

Graham tweeted on Tuesday morning that he backs Lankford's proposal.

"I totally support @SenatorLankford's proposal that the Bolton manuscript be made available to the Senate, if possible, in a classified setting where each Senator has the opportunity to review the manuscript and make their own determination," Graham tweeted.

Democrats have been seeking Bolton's testimony for months. House Democrats called on Bolton to testify in the House impeachment inquiry last October, but Bolton refused to show up.

However, after Democrats passed articles of impeachment against Trump in December, Bolton appeared to have a change of heart and said he would testify if the Senate subpoenaed him during the trial.

Senate Democrats then attempted to secure Bolton's testimony earlier in January, before the Senate passed the rules governing the impeachment trial, but every Republican senator voted to block Bolton's testimony.

Following Monday's leak of Bolton's book, in which he discusses Trump's quid pro quo with Ukraine, calls for Republicans to allow Bolton to testify have heightened.

Despite those allegations, many high-ranking Republicans still say Bolton's firsthand account isn't relevant and doesn't change their plan to block witnesses and quickly acquit Trump before the Feb. 4 State of the Union.

So far, only one Republican, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), said he believes Bolton should testify. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) said that she is "likely to vote to call witnesses," but she hasn't said definitively that she plans to vote for Bolton's testimony.

Democrats ultimately need four GOP votes to call Bolton to the witness stand.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.