President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial was moving along predictably until an unpublished manuscript of John Bolton’s new book fell out of the sky and directly into the lap of the New York Times.
Republicans smell a plot after the 11th-hour leak — for profit, revenge, or both. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) speculated that Bolton may be taking advantage of impeachment drama to hawk his upcoming memoir.
“He’s a disgruntled, angry man who was fired. So you’d have to take him with a grain of salt. He wants to sell a book,” he told the Washington Examiner.
Rand Paul shreds “disgruntled” Bolton
Democrats and the mainstream media smelled blood when the Times reported that Bolton, in the book, recounts a meeting with Trump in which the president directly tied military aid to Ukraine with his desire to have the country investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Trump’s allies have questioned the timing of the leak, which came just a day before Trump’s lawyers resumed their defense arguments Monday — and the same day that Bolton’s book was available for pre-order on Amazon.
Echoing Trump, who immediately dismissed Bolton as a liar who is just trying to sell a book, Sen. Paul told the Examiner that Bolton is angry at Trump and that his testimony would not reveal anything Americans did not already learn from watching the impeachment circus. Paul said that Bolton is hoping to generate excitement for his memoir by creating pressure for Republicans to let him testify in the trial:
I think you can make a strong argument that he’s ginning up his book. That’s his right, but he’s ginning up his book with the hopes of bringing it in for testimony. He’ll make more money if he testifies. He’ll make a lot more money … if he gets it out pretty soon.
Dems lionize Bolton
Democrats have long seen Bolton as a potential “bombshell” witness after his falling out with Trump, who said he fired him; Bolton, who left the White House in September, said he resigned.
In an ironic twist, the mustachioed Iraq War architect has become a hero of the Democratic party as the trial gets down to the wire. Democrats and the media capitalized on the book leak to pressure Republicans to let Bolton (but not Hunter Biden) testify, casting the foreign policy hawk as a man of integrity who has never told a lie in his life.
The president’s allies are coming out guns blazing, with Fox’s Lou Dobbs slamming Bolton as a “tool for the Radical Dems and the Deep State.” Even Fred Fleitz, Bolton’s former chief of staff, has urged Bolton to withdraw his book.
Trial lumbers to a conclusion
In three days of arguments last week, Democrats accused Trump of “cheating” in the 2020 election by pressuring Ukraine to probe the Bidens, and then trying to cover it up by blocking subpoenas. On the other side, Trump’s lawyers say that Democrats are trying to oust Trump from office for partisan reasons and that Trump had legitimate motives to seek an investigation into possible corruption involving the Bidens.
The trial could wrap up quickly if senators reject calling additional witnesses this week, but Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Mitt Romney (R-UT) said they will likely vote in favor of calling witnesses after the Bolton leak, raising the prospect of a drawn-out spectacle. Republicans have said that they will call Hunter Biden if Democrats get their witnesses, but Democrats want to have their cake and eat it too.
Impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) insisted that Biden and other witnesses Republicans want to hear from are “irrelevant” and that Trump has no right to call them. Behind the scenes, some senators have mulled trading Biden’s testimony for Bolton’s.
If nothing else, the Bolton leak has injected an element of surprise into an otherwise tedious and boring spectacle — but it’s time for the Senate to move on from this farce.