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

Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonWhistleblower retaliation: Stop confusing unlawful attacks with politics Congress looks to strengthen hand in State Department following impeachment Senate braces for fight over impeachment whistleblower testimony MORE (R-Wis.), a staunch ally of President TrumpDonald John TrumpSchiff blasts Trump for making 'false claims' about Russia intel: 'You've betrayed America. Again.' Poll: Sanders leads 2020 Democratic field with 28 percent, followed by Warren and Biden More than 6 in 10 expect Trump to be reelected: poll MORE, on Tuesday urged former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonTrump directly sought to block publication of Bolton's book: WaPo 'Parasite' studio fires back after Trump criticism: 'He can't read' Trump swipes at 'little wise guy' Brad Pitt, Korean film 'Parasite' during rally 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 GrahamSunday shows preview: 2020 candidates look to South Carolina Where do we go from here? Conservation can show the way Barr to attend Senate GOP lunch on Tuesday MORE (R-S.C.) and Finance Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyMcSally unveils bill to lower drug prices amid tough campaign Ernst endorses bipartisan Grassley-Wyden bill to lower drug prices Overnight Health Care: Nevada union won't endorse before caucuses after 'Medicare for All' scrap | McConnell tees up votes on two abortion bills | CDC confirms 15th US coronavirus case 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 BidenButtigieg campaign claims 'irregularities' in Nevada caucuses Poll: Sanders leads 2020 Democratic field with 28 percent, followed by Warren and Biden More than 6 in 10 expect Trump to be reelected: poll 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.