President TrumpDonald TrumpGraham says he hopes that Trump runs again Trump says Stacey Abrams 'might be better than existing governor' Kemp Executive privilege fight poses hurdles for Trump MORE claimed falsely on Monday that House Democrats “never even asked” his former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonOvernight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod Joint Chiefs Chairman Milley becomes lightning rod on right Ex-Trump adviser Bolton defends Milley: 'His patriotism is unquestioned' MORE to testify during the impeachment inquiry as he argued that it isn’t the job of the GOP-controlled Senate to call Bolton as a witness now.
“The Democrat controlled House never even asked John Bolton to testify. It is up to them, not up to the Senate!” Trump tweeted early Monday morning.
The Democrat controlled House never even asked John Bolton to testify. It is up to them, not up to the Senate!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 27, 2020
The president made the claim on Twitter hours after The New York Times reported that Bolton wrote in a draft copy of his new book that Trump told him in August that he wanted to suspend military assistance to Ukraine until the country helped with investigations into Democrats, including former Vice President Joe Biden.
They appear to be the same investigations that are at the center of House Democrats’ charge that the president abused his power.
The account, which Trump has vehemently denied, undercut a key portion of Trump’s defense — that he didn’t tie the aid to investigations — and immediately triggered renewed calls from Democrats for the Senate to call Bolton as a witness during the impeachment trial, which enters its sixth day Monday afternoon.
It’s possible that the revelation will put more pressure on Republicans to consider calling witnesses in the trial. A handful of more moderate GOP senators have signaled a willingness to call witnesses, though most Republicans have resisted the idea.
House investigators did ask Bolton to testify during the impeachment inquiry last fall, but he declined to testify on instructions from the White House and said he would only testify pursuant to a subpoena if a court weighed in on the issue. The House never subpoenaed Bolton, likely to avoid a drawn-out court battle.
The White House successfully blocked a handful of high-level current and former officials from testifying, many of whom were issued subpoenas, on the grounds that they are immune from compelled congressional testimony as top aides to Trump.
The House voted in mid-December to impeach Trump for abusing his power and obstructing Congress, citing the White House’s efforts to block testimony as evidence of the latter charge.
Bolton has since made clear that he is willing to testify before the Senate if issued a subpoena after a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by one of his former aides that sought a court resolution on the question of whether they should have to testify before Congress under subpoena or obey the instructions from the White House.
Trump has signaled, however, that the White House would try to exert executive privilege over Bolton’s testimony even if he is called by the Senate.
“I would rather go the long way. I would rather interview Bolton. I would rather interview a lot of people,” Trump told reporters last week at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
“The problem with John is that it’s a national security problem,” the president added, 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?”
Hours after the Times reported Bolton’s account on Sunday, the president disputed it, alleging Bolton was only making the allegation to promote his book.
“I NEVER told John Bolton that the aid to Ukraine was tied to investigations into Democrats, including the Bidens,” Trump tweeted. “In fact, he never complained about this at the time of his very public termination. If John Bolton said this, it was only to sell a book.”
Updated at 10:51 a.m.