Democrats have been demanding to hear testimony in the impeachment trial from former National Security Adviser John Bolton, but Republicans, for the most part, resisted — until a conveniently timed New York Times report dropped on Sunday about an alleged claim in Bolton’s upcoming book that there was an expressed link between military aid to Ukraine and investigations requested by President Donald Trump.
Moderate Senate Republican Mitt Romney (R-UT) suggested that this report makes it more likely that other Republicans will buckle under the pressure from Democrats and the media and support hearing testimony from Bolton, The Hill reported.
Romney wants to hear testimony from Bolton
Romney, who already supported calling witnesses in the trial, told reporters on Monday that he believed that it was now more likely than not that, in the wake of the report on Bolton’s claims, there would be enough Republican support for a subpoena for Bolton’s testimony.
He also said it was “increasingly apparent” that Bolton possessed knowledge and information about the temporarily withheld aid to Ukraine that senators ought to hear as part of the impeachment trial.
“It’s pretty fair to say John Bolton has relevant testimony,” Romney said to the media. “I think it’s increasingly likely that other Republicans will join those of us who think we should hear from John Bolton.”
Questions about Bolton, his book, and what he knows
Bolton has a new memoir of his brief tenure in the Trump administration that is set to be released in the near future. His manuscript had reportedly been submitted to the White House National Security Council (NSC) to undergo a review for classified information and appears to have been leaked from the NSC to the New York Times for the consequential story released on Sunday.
There are rather pertinent questions about who, exactly, leaked Bolton’s manuscript to the media, as well as the awfully coincidental timing of the Times article, not to mention a suspicion that all of this is little more than a ploy to drive up book sales ahead of the memoir’s release.
Democrats, and apparently some moderate Republicans, have ignored all of that and focused in on the vague claims from the Times about what is in Bolton’s book — the article didn’t have a single direct citation from the manuscript — as an excuse to renew their strident demands that Bolton be subpoenaed to testify.
How many will join the call to subpoena Bolton?
In all likelihood, the issue of additional witnesses will be dealt with on Thursday or Friday, following the conclusion of opening arguments from the president’s defense team and 16 hours of questioning from senators for the legal teams on both sides of the impeachment fight.
As of now, Romney appears to be the only Republican who’s openly joined the Democrats in demanding to hear from Bolton, though he did say that he would refrain from making a final judgment on the matter until after the opening arguments and senator’s questions periods had concluded.
There are likely a few others who are in the same position as Romney, though — most notably Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) — who’ve signaled an openness to call additional witnesses but haven’t specifically said whether they’d support a subpoena of Bolton.
We probably won’t know until the end of this week just how many Senate Republicans will vote to delay the conclusion of the impeachment trial with subpoenas for more witnesses, but rest assured, we’ll be watching.