John Bolton, President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, gave impeachment coverage a new twist: He says that he’s willing to testify if subpoenaed by the Senate.
Bolton would be the most senior member or former member of Trump’s administration to testify, as he likely has first-hand knowledge of the president’s decision to withhold military aid from Ukraine and pressure Ukrainian officials to investigate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. In the House hearings, Fiona Hill, his former aide, testified that Bolton told her he was not part of any “drug deal” the White House was devising to pressure Ukraine.
Whether Bolton testifies is still a big if, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has not given his support to holding an impeachment trial with witnesses. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has yet to send the articles of impeachment over to the Senate, is seeking assurances that the Senate will not be a mere formality before acquittal. Once the trial begins, a simple majority of senators can vote on whether to call witnesses.
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Bolton said in a statement that “I have concluded that, if the Senate issues a subpoena for my testimony, I am prepared to testify.”
Trump became only the third president in history to be impeached last month, when the House voted along party lines to pass two articles of impeachment. The House charged Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, the latter focused on White House efforts to block witnesses from testifying and a refusal to turn over key documents.
Bolton’s statement raises more questions amid the uncertainty over what happens next in the impeachment process. It could put more pressure on McConnell to set out the terms of the trial, but it also could lead to a new effort by the House of Representatives to subpoena Bolton.
If he does testify, it undoubtedly be one of the bigger media moments so far in the whole Ukraine affair, adding an element of unpredictability to a process leading to a not guilty verdict in the GOP-controlled Senate. It will take two-thirds of the Senate to convict Trump, an unlikely prospect given that it would mean 20 Republicans would have to align with all Democrats and two independents.
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