John Bolton says he will testify before Senate if subpoenaed

John Bolton may have just upended President Donald Trump’s impeachment strategy. The mustachioed former Trump adviser has decided that he will testify in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump if the Senate issues him a subpoena, Fox reported.

“I have concluded that, if the Senate issues a subpoena for my testimony, I am prepared to testify,” Bolton said Monday. The decision is a blow to Republicans seeking a fast, no-witness trial and a boon to Democrats like Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who are seeking Bolton’s testimony.

Bolton: I will testify if called

Democrats want testimony from Bolton, Mick Mulvaney, and others to learn more about Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine, especially after Bolton aide Fiona Hill testified that the adviser called the Ukraine pressure a “drug deal” of which he wanted no part. Bolton has been seen as something of a wild card given his leading role on Trump’s national security team and his public falling out with Trump this summer.

Bolton had avoided testifying because of conflicting orders from Congress to appear and the White House to stand down. Democrats immediately capitalized on Bolton’s shift to press for more documents and testimony in the Senate trial.

“Given that Mr. Bolton’s lawyers have stated he has new relevant information to share, if any Senate Republican opposes issuing subpoenas to the four witnesses and documents we have requested they would make absolutely clear they are participating in a cover up,” Schumer said in a statement.

Schumer and fellow Democrats are trying to regain leverage in the impeachment fight, which has been at a stalemate since Democrats voted to impeach Trump last month. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has withheld the impeachment articles in an attempt to pressure McConnell to hold a trial on terms more favorable to Democrats, and Schumer has pointed to recently released Trump administration emails which he says justify investigating the Ukraine matter further.

Trial up in the air

Lawmakers returned from a two-week holiday recess Friday without breaking the partisan stalemate. McConnell has been clear that he has no desire to dignify the partisan “sham” that played out in the House by caving to Democrats’ demands for a protracted trial, while Schumer and his fellow Democrats have accused McConnell of a “cover up” motivated by fear of incriminating evidence.

But Republicans have argued that Democrats are not pursuing Trump in good faith, pointing to their previous urgency in seeking impeachment with the sudden delay. Republican senators have begun backing McConnell’s plan for a fast trial with few, if any, witnesses, and Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) introduced a resolution Monday to dismiss the impeachment outright — although a handful of moderates like Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) have expressed concerns about McConnell’s approach.

Republicans have 53 members in the Senate, and they need just 51 votes to dismiss Democrats’ demands for more witnesses. But Collins and Murkowski are now backing McConnell’s plan to start the trial and consider witnesses later on, The Hill reported.

Will Bolton betray Trump?

Aside from putting pressure on Republicans, Bolton’s shift has raised speculation about whether and how he might betray the president. Trump and Bolton are said to have come to blows over policy on North Korea and other foreign affairs before Bolton left the White House in September (some have even speculated that Bolton is Trump’s “Deep Throat.”)

But separately from the impeachment drama, Trump gave the neoconservative hawk a reason to cheer with a fatal airstrike on General Qassem Soleimani of Iran last week, which instantly raised tensions throughout the Middle East. Bolton praised the strike and said that he hopes it’s the beginning of a new war to overthrow the Iranian government.

“Congratulations to all involved in eliminating Qassem Soleimani. Long in the making, this was a decisive blow against Iran’s malign Quds Force activities worldwide,” Bolton said in a tweet. “Hope this is the first step to regime change in Tehran,” he added.

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