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

Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonSunday shows preview: Lawmakers prepare for SCOTUS confirmation hearings before election The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump previews SCOTUS nominee as 'totally brilliant' The Hill's 12:30 Report: Ginsburg lies in repose MORE (R-Wis.), a staunch ally of President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says voters should choose who nominates Supreme Court justice Trump, Biden will not shake hands at first debate due to COVID-19 Pelosi: Trump Supreme Court pick 'threatens' Affordable Care Act MORE, on Tuesday urged former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonJudge appears skeptical of Bolton's defense of publishing book without White House approval Maximum pressure is keeping US troops in Iraq and Syria Woodward book trails Bolton, Mary Trump in first-week sales 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 GrahamHarris slams Trump's Supreme Court pick as an attempt to 'destroy the Affordable Care Act' Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers prepare for SCOTUS confirmation hearings before election Confirmation hearing for Trump's Supreme Court pick to start Oct. 12 MORE (R-S.C.) and Finance Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyGOP lawmakers distance themselves from Trump comments on transfer of power The Hill's 12:30 Report: Ginsburg lies in repose Top GOP senators say Hunter Biden's work 'cast a shadow' over Obama Ukraine policy 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 BidenBiden says voters should choose who nominates Supreme Court justice Trump, Biden will not shake hands at first debate due to COVID-19 Joe Biden should enact critical government reforms if he wins 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.