Trump: Senate should decide on witnesses; Bolton testimony poses national security risk

Trump: Senate should decide on witnesses; Bolton testimony poses national security risk
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump passes Pence a dangerous buck Overnight Health Care — Presented by American Health Care Association — Trump taps Pence to lead coronavirus response | Trump accuses Pelosi of trying to create panic | CDC confirms case of 'unknown' origin | Schumer wants .5 billion in emergency funds Trump nods at reputation as germaphobe during coronavirus briefing: 'I try to bail out as much as possible' after sneezes MORE said Wednesday that he would let the GOP-controlled Senate decide whether his impeachment trial should include witness testimony.

Trump also said that he would rather go the “long way” with a Senate impeachment trial and have former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonOvernight Health Care — Presented by American Health Care Association — Trump taps Pence to lead coronavirus response | Trump accuses Pelosi of trying to create panic | CDC confirms case of 'unknown' origin | Schumer wants .5 billion in emergency funds Bolton's lost leverage Azar downplays chance Trump will appoint coronavirus czar MORE and others testify, but that their appearances would pose a risk to national security.

“I would rather go the long way. I would rather interview Bolton. I would rather interview a lot of people,” Trump said at a news conference at the end of a two-day appearance at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

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“The problem with John is that it’s a national security problem,” the president continued, indicating executive privilege would apply to Bolton's testimony. “He knows some of my thoughts. He knows what I think about leaders. What happens if he reveals what I think about a certain leader and it’s not very positive and I have to deal on behalf of the country?”

Trump added that Bolton left his White House on negative terms last September and “you don’t like people testifying when they didn’t leave on good terms.”

Trump also said he would like to have Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoOvernight Defense: Lawmakers tear into Pentagon over .8B for border wall | Dems offer bill to reverse Trump on wall funding | Senators urge UN to restore Iran sanctions Former Laura Bush staffer decries Taliban's treatment of women amid peace deal Bipartisan Senate resolution would urge UN to renew Iran arms embargo, travel restrictions MORE and former Energy Secretary Rick PerryRick PerryTop National Security Council aide moved to Energy Department role Overnight Energy: Green groups to sue over Trump rollback of Obama water rules | GOP climate plan faces pushback from right | Bezos launches B climate initiative Rick Perry to rejoin dental insurance company as chief strategy officer MORE testify in the Senate impeachment trial, but that executive privilege would also apply to their testimony for national security reasons.

He added that he’d “love” to have acting chief of staff Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyWhite House preparing to ask Congress for funds to combat coronavirus: report Tucker Carlson calls out Mick Mulvaney on immigration remarks: 'Dishonest and stupid' Trump furious after officials allowed Americans with coronavirus to fly home with other passengers: report MORE appear, though there was “not much he could add” beyond an interview Mulvaney did with Fox News’s Chris WallaceChristopher (Chris) WallaceChris Wallace 'horrified' by CNN's Acosta's conduct: 'It's not our job to one-up presidents' President Trump's assault on checks and balances: Five acts in four weeks Steyer: 'I do for sure' have to finish in top three in South Carolina MORE in October.

Trump instructed Bolton, Mulvaney and other current and former officials not to testify under subpoena in connection with the impeachment inquiry in the House, asserting executive branch immunity. The Democratic-controlled House voted to impeach Trump for obstructing Congress by blocking witnesses and document production, in addition to abusing his power in his dealings with Ukraine.

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Democrats have been pushing to call witnesses in the Senate, arguing the process would be otherwise unfair and tilted to favor the president. Trump’s attorneys, meanwhile, have argued Democrats should have sought a resolution to the subpoena fight in court, claiming Trump was asserting constitutional privilege protections offered to the executive branch.

Trump’s remarks in Davos came one day after his trial began in earnest in the Senate. Republicans defeated a number of amendments offered by Democrats to the rules of the trial seeking to subpoena documents and witnesses, including Bolton and Mulvaney, at the outset of the proceedings.

The rules resolution approved in a party-line vote in the early hours Wednesday morning allows for debate on witnesses following the opening arguments by House impeachment managers and the president’s lawyers.

Trump’s lawyers and his White House have shown opposition to calling Democratic-sought witnesses in the impeachment trial, though Trump on Wednesday deferred to the Republican-controlled Senate while railing against his impeachment as a “hoax.”

“I’m going to leave that to the Senate,” Trump said when asked if witnesses should be called. “The Senate is going to have to answer that.”

“I’m going to head back and I’ll be watching,” the president said of the impeachment proceedings. “But it’s really going to be up to the Senate.”

Most Republicans have remained opposed to witness testimony, but a handful of more moderate members have expressed an interest in hearing from witnesses. Senate Democrats need four Republicans to break with their colleagues in order to compel witnesses to testify.