Trump indicates he’d block Bolton’s testimony ‘for the sake of the office’
President Trump on Friday indicated that he would block former national security adviser John Bolton from testifying in the Senate’s impeachment trial, arguing that allowing him to do so would undermine his office’s authority.
“I think you have to for the sake of the office,” Trump told Fox News’s Laura Ingraham when asked if he would use executive privilege to block testimony from Bolton.
“Especially a national security adviser,” he added. “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 president rattled off several other officials he said he would like to testify, including acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former Energy Secretary Rick Perry but said allowing them to do so could hurt future presidents.
“I would love everybody to testify,” Trump said. “I’d like Mick to testify. I’d like Mike Pompeo to testify. I’d like Rick Perry to testify. I want everybody — but there are things that you can’t do from the standpoint of executive privilege.”
The comments mark a doubling down by Trump, who signaled earlier this week he would block Bolton from appearing before the Senate.
“So we have to protect presidential privilege — for me but for future presidents,” he said.
Bolton said in a statement Monday that he would be willing to testify in a Senate impeachment trial if subpoenaed, even over administration objections. Democrats have clamored to hear from the former national security adviser because of his intimate knowledge of Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, the focal point of the impeachment articles against him.
Bolton described the effort by administration officials to press Ukraine for investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden, a chief political rival, and Biden’s son Hunter as a “drug deal,” according to witnesses who testified in front of the House during its impeachment inquiry. Bolton’s attorneys have also said he has relevant information on meetings and conversations regarding Ukraine.
However, the Senate seems set to pass a resolution defining the parameters for its trial that does not include provisions for witness-calling, with Republicans apparently in agreement on rules for the proceedings.
The House impeached Trump in December for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress after Democrats say he made security aid and a White House meeting for Ukraine contingent on the country announcing investigations that could help him politically.