GOP senator: John Bolton should go public with what he knows

Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonSchumer to GOP: Cancel 'conspiracy hearings' on origins of Russia probe Comey, Rice, Clapper among GOP senator's targets for subpoenas amid Obama-era probe Schumer: GOP should 'stop sitting on their hands' on coronavirus bill MORE (R-Wis.), a staunch ally of President TrumpDonald John TrumpMichael Flynn transcripts reveal plenty except crime or collusion 50 people arrested in Minneapolis as hundreds more National Guard troops deployed Missouri state lawmaker sparks backlash by tweeting 'looters deserve to be shot' MORE, on Tuesday urged former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonHave the courage to recognize Taiwan McConnell says Obama administration 'did leave behind' pandemic plan Trump company lawyer warned Michael Cohen not to write 'tell-all' book: report MORE to speak out publicly about what he knows about efforts to hold up military assistance to Ukraine. 

Johnson, the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and member of the Senate Ukraine Caucus, invited Bolton in early January to testify before the Senate, but Bolton informed the lawmaker he would only respond to a Senate subpoena.

“I spoke with John Bolton on Jan. 7 when I heard that he wanted to testify,” Johnson said, recalling his conversation with Bolton in connection with his own committee’s investigation into possible corruption in Ukraine. 

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“I said 'John, if you’ve got something to say, I’d rather have you say it sooner rather than later. We’re calling in a bunch of witnesses, why don’t you come into our committee?' John at that time said, ‘I’d only respond to a Senate subpoena,’ ” he said.

Johnson is one of three GOP chairmen, along with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSchumer to GOP: Cancel 'conspiracy hearings' on origins of Russia probe Graham announces hearing on police use of force after George Floyd killing In a new cold war with China, America may need to befriend Russia MORE (R-S.C.) and Finance Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyGrassley, Leahy urge Roberts to permanently air Supreme Court arguments Democrats broaden probe into firing of State Department watchdog Former Romney strategist joins anti-Trump Lincoln Project MORE (R-Iowa), who are probing conflicts of interest in the Obama administration when Hunter Biden was serving as a highly-paid board member of Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian energy company.

In the wake of a New York Times report that Bolton claims in an unpublished manuscript that Trump explicitly linked military assistance for Ukraine to an investigation of former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump campaign launches Asian Pacific Americans coalition Biden: 'More than one African American woman' being considered for VP Liberal group asks Klobuchar to remove herself from VP consideration because of prosecutorial record MORE and his son, Johnson now says Bolton should go public with what he knows.

Johnson said Bolton should clarify what he knows but suggested he do so outside the formal proceedings of the impeachment trial.

“Now that what has unfolded with the manuscript being leaked — by the way, exquisite timing, maybe suspicious timing — The Wall Street Journal has called for John to just come forward. Just tell the public what you know. I think that would actually be a smart thing. I’d encourage John to do that.”

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Johnson said Bolton should do so “without involving the trial” and possibly go straight to the media.

The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board opined Monday that “the former NSC adviser should tell the public what he knows.” 

“With the news of what’s in the book already public, Mr. Bolton can help everyone, including himself, by erasing any doubt about what he knows. He can tell the American public what he wrote—now, before the Senate votes on witnesses. Lay it all out. Put to rest the 'coverup' talking point,” the paper wrote.

Johnson, however, did not give any indication that he would vote for a motion to subpoena additional documents or witnesses and it’s considered unlikely that Bolton will discuss his conversations with the president outside of the impeachment trial.