McConnell says he had no advance notice of claims reportedly made in Bolton book

The demand from Democrats to subpoena former National Security Adviser John Bolton to testify in the impeachment trial was bolstered on Sunday by a conveniently timed New York Times article claiming that a section of Bolton’s soon-to-be-released book suggested that President Donald Trump linked aid to Ukraine to investigations into Democrats like Joe and Hunter Biden.

Democrats and the media seized on the assertion from the Times and, like clockwork, moderate establishment Republicans immediately wavered and signaled more of an openness to joining in the call for Bolton’s testimony. Meanwhile, some Republicans were reportedly angry that even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) did not receive a heads-up from the White House — which did get an advanced copy of the book for screening — about what Bolton was said to have written on the matter, the Washington Examiner reported.

McConnell blindsided

A spokesman for McConnell said on Monday that “The leader did not have any advance notice” of what was in Bolton’s book, which resulted in a lack of preparation to handle the sudden development that, predictably, caused some Senate Republicans to waver from the strong stance the caucus had taken against calling any additional witnesses.

The supposed contents of Bolton’s book made for a hot topic among senators on Monday, as Democrats reiterated their demand for him to testify in the impeachment trial. Some moderate Republicans indicated that there were likely at least four of them who would now support such a call.

The New York Times reported on Monday that its article from the day before was all Senate Republicans were talking about at a luncheon prior to the start of the day’s trial proceedings — something which seems to have happened by design.

McConnell was reportedly forced to urge his fellow Republicans not to prematurely reach any conclusions on the issue and to continue standing strong together against the ramped-up pressure campaign against them from Democrats and the media over Bolton.

The Times reported that according to Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN), McConnell told his colleagues, “Let’s get through the next step,” and he also urged them to “take a deep breath and let’s take one step at a time.”

Who leaked Bolton’s manuscript?

The Times also reported that McConnell was included in the number of Republicans who had been “venting angrily” about the news regarding Bolton from the day before.

The report on Sunday, which notably didn’t include any direct citations from Bolton’s manuscript, nonetheless strongly implied that there was linkage between Ukraine aid and the investigations requested by President Trump.

The big question in all of this is how the reported revelations in Bolton’s book ended up in the possession of the Times. The book had previously been submitted to the White House National Security Council (NSC) for a review for classified information, and all signs point to portions of the book being leaked by the NSC to the paper, as Bolton’s people have strongly denied leaking it themselves.

Predictable turn of events

Given the predictable nature of the opposition media and its well-worn playbook of conveniently timing reports to either boost or undermine certain narratives, perhaps the White House and Senate Republicans should have anticipated this article about Bolton just days ahead of a likely Senate vote on whether he should be called to testify.

Unfortunately, they did not, and now some Republicans are complaining about being blindsided by the report, even as others scramble to adapt to the new information and how it has altered impeachment trial landscape.

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