Democrats see John Bolton as potential star witness

Democrats are eyeing John BoltonJohn BoltonTrump envoy says US ready to talk to North Korea but rebukes Pyongyang counterpart Why Trump can't make up his mind on China The benefits of American disinterest in world affairs MORE as a potential witness in their impeachment case amid increasing scrutiny of President TrumpDonald John TrumpDeSantis on Florida schools reopening: 'If you can do Walmart,' then 'we absolutely can do schools' NYT editorial board calls for the reopening of schools with help from federal government's 'checkbook' Mueller pens WaPo op-ed: Roger Stone 'remains a convicted felon, and rightly so' MORE and Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiSunday shows preview: Coronavirus poses questions about school safety; Trump commutes Roger Stone sentence Nadler: Barr dealings with Berman came 'awfully close to bribery' READ: Ousted Manhattan US Attorney Berman testifies Barr 'repeatedly urged' him to resign MORE’s contacts with Ukraine. 

Bolton, Trump’s third national security adviser who was pushed out last month, has long clashed with Democrats over a host of foreign policy initiatives.

But amid the Democrats’ investigation into Trump’s controversial dealings with Ukraine, they now see the military hawk as a potential star witness — one whose intimate knowledge of the Ukraine affair could expose more evidence of wrongdoing by the president. 

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“When he calls Giuliani a ‘live hand grenade,’ that says something. He speaks from experience. He's someone who should know,” Rep. Stephen LynchStephen Francis LynchThe Hill's Campaign Report: Jacksonville mandates face coverings as GOP convention approaches Steyer endorses Markey in Massachusetts Senate primary House GOP lawmakers defy new mask requirement MORE (D-Mass.), a member of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, told CNN on Tuesday, referencing Fiona Hill’s reported closed-door testimony on Monday.

“So, yes, we would want to talk to Bolton. We understand that he did leave the White House under stressful circumstances, but I think he had a good read on what was going on in Ukraine and his testimony would be very desirable as far as the committee goes,” Lynch added.

Others also echoed this position, arguing that Bolton’s conservative bona fides make him a potentially more politically potent witness — a Republican who could challenge the narrative of Trump’s GOP defenders on Capitol Hill.

“He’s as big a hawk as you’re going to find,” said Rep. Peter WelchPeter Francis WelchNational Retail Federation hosts virtual 'store tours' for lawmakers amid coronavirus Democrats roll out national plan to reopen America Democrats press USDA to create rural coronavirus task force MORE (D-Vt.), a member of the House Intelligence Committee. “And according to the news report, he was shocked and appalled at the run around of the official channels for a private foreign policy run by Giuliani. So that makes what he has to say of interest to me.”

“I think it would be useful to hear from John Bolton,” echoed Rep. Gerry ConnollyGerald (Gerry) Edward ConnollyBlack Caucus rallies behind Meeks for Foreign Affairs gavel Ousted watchdog says he told top State aides about Pompeo probe House committee chair requests immediate briefing on Secret Service's involvement in clearing protesters MORE (D-Va.), a member of both the House Oversight and Reform and Foreign Affairs committees.

Bolton, who departed the White House last month amid conflicts with Trump over major foreign policy matters, is said to have raised concerns about the president and Giuliani’s efforts to get Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate one of Trump’s top political opponents, 2020 Democratic candidate Joe BidenJoe BidenDonald Trump Jr. to self-publish book 'Liberal Privilege' before GOP convention Tom Price: Here's how we can obtain more affordable care The Memo: Democrats feel rising tide in Florida MORE

Although Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, is not a government employee, he has said repeatedly that he was taking direction from the State Department in efforts to drum up foreign-led anti-corruption investigations into Trump’s political rivals. 

Hill, Trump’s former leading Russia expert who left voluntarily in July, told House investigators during a closed-door deposition Monday that Bolton was so alarmed by what he heard about Trump’s contacts with Ukraine that he instructed her to notify the chief lawyer for the National Security Council about the efforts of Giuliani, Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland and acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyOVERNIGHT ENERGY: WH pushed for 'correction' to Weather Service tweet contradicting Trump in 'Sharpiegate' incident, watchdog says | Supreme Court rules that large swath of Oklahoma belongs to Native American tribe WH pushed for 'correction' to Weather Service tweet contradicting Trump in 'Sharpiegate' incident, watchdog says  Mulvaney: Trump faces difficulty if 2020 election becomes 'referendum' on him MORE, The New York Times reported late Monday morning.

“I am not part of whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up,” Bolton told Hill, according to her reported testimony.

If Bolton agrees to testify, he would follow a string of witnesses who have defied the White House’s order seeking to block former and current administration officials from testifying about their time in the administration, including those who have had an involvement in the Ukraine scandal.

Last week, Marie Yovanovitch, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, defied the administration to give nearly 10 hours of testimony, voicing concerns that her removal was politically motivated. 

Hill’s appearance Monday also bucked the administration’s wishes. And George Kent, who remains at the State Department as a deputy assistant secretary, testified Tuesday even after the agency tried to prevent his appearance.

While multiple members on the Intelligence Committee said they were not sure whether the panel has been in touch with Bolton about securing a deposition, Democrats say they are racing the clock to collect as much evidence as they can about Trump’s conduct with Ukraine.

Members on the House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees for the most part remained mum as they left the closed-door hearing with Kent on whether they wanted to hear from Bolton.

Some also dodged questions about whether they had been instructed to stay quiet about future witnesses, deferring to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffSunday shows preview: Coronavirus poses questions about school safety; Trump commutes Roger Stone sentence Pelosi plans legislation to limit pardons, commutations after Roger Stone move Trump defends Roger Stone move: He was target of 'Witch Hunt' MORE (D-Calif.), who is leading the investigation into the Trump administration’s contacts with Ukraine. 

Bolton, now a Republican operative, clashed with Trump on major policy issues such as North Korea, Iran and Afghanistan, with the president viewing the longtime hawk as too militant in his approaches. He is reportedly working on a book about his time in the administration. 

Still, at the onset of his departure, Bolton showed he was willing to fight back with the administration, disputing Trump’s claims that he had been fired, rather than offering to submit a letter of resignation a day prior.