Bolton willing to testify in Senate impeachment trial if subpoenaed
Former national security adviser John Bolton said Monday that he would testify in a Senate impeachment trial of President Trump if subpoenaed.
“The House has concluded its Constitutional responsibility by adopting Articles of Impeachment related to the Ukraine matter. It now falls to the Senate to fulfill its Constitutional obligation to try impeachments, and it does not appear possible that a final judicial resolution of the still-unanswered Constitutional questions can be obtained before the Senate acts,” Bolton, who was ousted by Trump last September, said in a statement.
“I have had to resolve the serious competing issues as best I could, based on careful consideration and study. I have concluded that, if the Senate issues a subpoena for my testimony, I am prepared to testify,” Bolton said.
Bolton had previously said that he needed a judge to resolve whether a senior Trump adviser could be compelled to testify before Congress, and as a result did not appear before the House, as requested, in connection with the impeachment inquiry.
His former deputy, Charles Kupperman, had filed a lawsuit asking a federal judge to decide whether he should obey a congressional subpoena for his testimony, but the case was declared moot at the end of last month. Bolton was never subpoenaed by the House after his lawyers made clear he would not appear without a subpoena and that he would want a court to resolve the question of whether he could be forced to testify.
Bolton said on Monday that because there will not be a judicial resolution as to whether senior presidential advisers can be compelled to testify by Congress before the Senate trial concludes, he is prepared to testify before the Senate if subpoenaed.
The GOP-controlled Senate appears unlikely to call Bolton to testify, however.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has signaled he is not willing to meet Democrats’ demands that Bolton and other top White House officials testify in connection with the inquiry. Any subpoena would require 51 votes of support, meaning Democrats would need four Republicans on board. No Republican has publicly expressed support for calling Bolton as a witness.
“It is now up to four Senate Republicans to support bringing in Mr. Bolton, and the other three witnesses, as well as the key documents we have requested to ensure all the evidence is presented at the onset of a Senate trial,” Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement.
“Given that Mr. Bolton’s lawyers have stated he has new relevant information to share, if any Senate Republican opposes issuing subpoenas to the four witnesses and documents we have requested they would make absolutely clear they are participating in a cover up,” Schumer added.
Bolton was viewed as a key witness for House Democrats when they examined an alleged effort by some in the administration to pressure Ukraine for investigations that could benefit Trump politically.
Bolton left his post on testy terms with Trump, after sparring with the president on Afghanistan, North Korea and other policy matters.
Bolton witnessed key moments leading up to and following the July 25 call during which Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate a debunked theory about Kyiv’s involvement in the 2016 Democratic National Committee server hack as well as former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden’s business dealings in Ukraine.
Bolton allegedly described efforts by administration officials to press Ukraine for the investigations as a “drug deal,” according to witness testimony.
The House voted nearly strictly along party lines last month to impeach Trump for abusing his office in his dealings with Ukraine and obstructing the congressional inquiry into them. Bolton was one of several top current or former officials who refused to testify in connection with the inquiry on orders from the White House including a number who were subpoenaed. The Trump administration also refused to furnish the House with documents in connection with the inquiry.
Bolton’s statement Monday did not elaborate on what he would tell the Senate but signaled that he would not listen to any instructions from the White House not to comply with a subpoena.
It is unclear whether the House would now subpoena Bolton to try to obtain his testimony. Democrats like Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (Calif.) made no mention of subpoenaing him on Monday.
“The President & Sen. McConnell have run out of excuses. They must allow key witnesses to testify, and produce the documents Trump has blocked, so Americans can see the facts for themselves,” Pelosi tweeted.
Democrats obtained witness testimony that Trump administration officials sought to condition a White House meeting and nearly $400 million in security assistance to Ukraine on Kyiv launching investigations into 2016 election interference and Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company whose board employed Hunter Biden.
Trump has maintained he did nothing wrong on the call with Zelensky, characterizing it as “perfect” and accusing House Democrats of a partisan effort meant to damage his reelection prospects. Trump has also denied a quid pro quo in his dealings with Ukraine, distancing himself from witnesses and casting doubt on their credibility.
The president, eager for an acquittal by the GOP-controlled Senate, has pushed for an impeachment trial to begin quickly. However, Pelosi has delayed sending the articles of impeachment to the upper chamber while raising concerns about the parameters and fairness of the Senate trial, which has created uncertainty around its timing.
“The Impeachment Hoax, just a continuation of the Witch Hunt which started even before I won the Election, must end quickly,” Trump tweeted earlier Monday.
“Read the Transcripts, see the Ukrainian President’s strong statement, NO PRESSURE – get this done,” Trump said, referring to the rough transcript of his phone call with Zelensky. “It is a con game by the Dems to help with the Election!”
—This report was updated at 2:40 p.m.