Speaking with Fox News host Laura Ingraham on her self-titled program The Ingraham Angle, President Donald Trump said Friday that he would feel compelled to invoke executive privilege to prevent former National Security Adviser John Bolton from testifying in a Senate impeachment trial.
Trump indicated in the exclusive interview that he would personally like to see Bolton testify — along with others, like his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney — but he said he has to think about future presidents and how they would be impacted by that testimony.
“I would love everybody to testify,” Trump told Ingraham, according to Fox. “I’d like Mick to testify, I’d like Mike Pompeo to testify, I’d like Rick Perry to testify… But there are things that you can’t do from the standpoint of executive privilege.”
“We just can’t do that”
Trump’s comments came as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced on Friday that she would look to send the articles of impeachment over to the Senate as soon as next week, according to Politico. She had spent weeks holding onto the articles, insisting that she needed to be assured that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) would run a “fair” trial before allowing the matter to move forward, but in a letter to colleagues Friday, the House speaker caved, making a trial imminent.
“I have asked Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler to be prepared to bring to the Floor next week a resolution to appoint managers and transmit articles of impeachment to the Senate,” Pelosi wrote, according to Politico.
McConnell has indicated that he may not call any new witnesses during the Senate’s trial, but he has left the door open to doing so if Senate Republicans think it is necessary.
For his part, Bolton indicated last week that he would be willing to testify if he was called as a witness, which led to repeated calls from Democrats to have him do so, Politico noted. If Trump invokes his executive privilege, however, Bolton would not be allowed to testify unless a court said that privilege did not apply.
Asked plainly by Ingraham if he would do so, Trump replied: “Well, I think you have to for the sake of the office.”
“Especially, a national security adviser,” Trump said. “You can’t have him explaining all of your statements about national security concerning Russia, China, and North Korea — everything. We just can’t do that.”
The next move
If Trump indeed chooses to block Bolton from testifying, it wouldn’t be his first run-in with executive privilege. In fact, the second article of impeachment passed against Trump by House Democrats, alleging obstruction of justice, was little more than an attempt to slander Trump’s perfectly legitimate use of such privilege in the past.
The Supreme Court is now set to soon hear arguments on whether Trump has the right to deny the testimony of witnesses subpoenaed by Congress without a final court order, a move that The Hill’s Alan Dershowitz says “undercuts” Democrats’ narrative. But it will be up to Senate Republicans — probably soon — to make the final call on whether Trump did anything wrong.
With Pelosi finally sending the articles to the Senate, a trial could be over within weeks, bringing the impeachment saga to a close. But will it really be the end? For now, we’ll have to wait for Dems to make their next move.