Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) apparently isn’t done interrogating the president’s men.
The California Democrat said that he may subpoena John Bolton to testify in the House after the former National Security adviser said he would comply with a Senate subpoena, Breitbart reported. Schiff accused Republicans of a “cover-up” and insisted that Bolton and other witnesses must testify for there to be any fairness in the Senate trial.
House subpoena not “off the table”
Schiff’s House Intelligence Committee sought Bolton’s testimony before Democrats in the House voted to impeach Donald Trump late last year, but Bolton refused to appear, citing conflicting orders from the White House to stand down. Democrats did not subpoena Bolton at the time, fearing an extended court battle, but Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has continued to seek his testimony amid a stalemate with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) over the terms of a Senate trial.
The trial has been delayed indefinitely amid a hold on articles of impeachment by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), which many have said is destined to falter. However, Schiff claimed that Pelosi’s hold had the positive effect of showing that McConnell is in “cahoots” with Trump, while also creating pressure for Bolton and others to testify.
Reacting to Bolton’s announcement that he will testify if called, Schiff said that he would not write off a House subpoena, but he also appeared to leave the ball in Schumer’s court. “We haven’t taken that [a subpoena] off the table. I think what makes the most sense, though, is for him to testify in the Senate trial,” he said.”
Democrats have sought testimony from Bolton, acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and others as well as additional documents which they say are relevant to their probe of Donald Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine for an investigation into Joe Biden. Bolton’s lawyer said last year that the adviser was part of “many relevant meetings and conversations” and one of Bolton’s aides, Fiona Hill, testified to Congress that Bolton wanted no part of the Ukraine “drug deal,” Fox reported.
Senate GOP prepares to move ahead
Lawmakers returned from a holiday recess with no plan to break the stalemate. Democrats have accused McConnell of a “cover-up” by seeking to move through a Senate trial as quickly as possible, but Republicans have said that the investigative phase is over and that Democrats are attempting to usurp the Senate’s sole authority over the trial phase.
Bolton appeared to upend Republicans’ plans Monday with his reversal, and Schiff, Schumer, and other Democrats quickly capitalized on the shift to demand that McConnell satisfy their requests for a more expansive trial. However, McConnell has said that Republicans have the votes to get a trial started with no deal on witnesses.
“There will be no haggling with the House over Senate procedure,” McConnell said on the chamber floor Wednesday, according to The Hill.
Dems not done?
There is likely little that Democrats in the Senate can do at this point, leaving House Democrats to keep open the possibility of issuing a subpoena in their chamber. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) confirmed Tuesday that it remains an option, The Hill reported.
After Bolton left the Trump administration in September following a public falling-out with the president, he has been seen by Democrats as a potential “bombshell” witness. But President Trump downplayed the importance of whatever the former National Security adviser would have to say in remarks Tuesday, Fox reported.
“He would know nothing about what we’re talking about because if you know, the Ukrainian government came out with a very strong statement, no pressure, no anything, and that’s from the boss, that’s from the president of Ukraine,” Trump said. “The foreign minister came out with a statement that was equally as strong.”
The question of Bolton’s testimony is not the only unresolved matter involving the House, which recently signaled that it may yet seek additional articles of impeachment stemming from the Robert Mueller probe. Indeed, the impeachment standoff has created a confusing spectacle as House members continue to investigate Trump, despite having already voted to impeach him.
It is time for Republicans to dismiss this charade and move on.