Bolton says he would consider testifying against Barr

Former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonTrump flails as audience dwindles and ratings plummet Many Democrats want John Bolton's testimony, but Pelosi stays mum Trump envoy says US ready to talk to North Korea but rebukes Pyongyang counterpart MORE said in an interview Tuesday that he would consider testifying against Attorney General William BarrBill BarrWe haven't seen how low it can go Trump lashes out at Toomey, Romney after Roger Stone clemency criticism GOP senator says Trump commuting Stone was a 'mistake' MORE if House Democrats seek his testimony.

Bolton expressed some reluctance to cooperate with House Democrats, pointing to how they handled the impeachment inquiry into President TrumpDonald John TrumpDavis: Supreme Court decision is bad news for Trump, good news for Vance Meadows trying to root out suspected White House leakers by feeding them info: Axios Pressley hits DeVos over reopening schools: 'I wouldn't trust you to care for a house plant let alone my child' MORE's contacts with Ukraine. But the veteran diplomat said he'd consult with his lawyers should he be called.

"I'll certainly consider it if and when it comes up and consult with my lawyers and try and do the right thing," Bolton said in a virtual interview with The Washington Post's Robert Costa. 

ADVERTISEMENT

The question is raised as the House Judiciary Committee prepares to subpoena Barr for an investigation centered on the firing of U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman, who was investigating members of the president’s family and inner circle in the Southern District of New York (SDNY).

Bolton said he did not have knowledge about Berman’s firing. But he said he did hear Trump raise the SDNY investigation into the Turkish bank Halkbank, which was being probed for allegedly violating U.S. sanctions against Iran, when he spoke to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

He said this interaction, as well as Trump’s remarks “about what he would do to influence it,” left him and others concerned. Costa then asked him if he’d be willing to testify against Barr if House Democrats pursued an investigation into the attorney general.

In his new book released this week, Bolton divulges a series of new allegations about Trump's contacts with foreign leaders. One such claim is that Trump solicited Chinese President Xi Jinping's assistance in winning reelection by stressing the importance of getting the vote from U.S. farmers and advocated that China make more purchases of U.S. soybeans and wheat to help with such efforts.

His book also paints the White House as a place of chaos, full of back-stabbing senior government advisers and officials who relent to the president's whims and demands.

ADVERTISEMENT

The White House tried to block his book from being published, arguing that it contains classified information, but a federal judge on Saturday denied their efforts. 

When asked if he will testify against Barr, Bolton pointed to this fight by the White House and noted that it is "campaign season," suggesting the Trump administration will fight to keep any potentially damaging information from coming to light.

"You know I'd rather not get into a hypothetical," Bolton told Costa. "Let's see what they do. The way they mishandled the impeachment inquiry gives me pause, I have to say — especially in light of the circumstances and things that President Trump has done to prevent the book itself from being from being published."

Bolton, who denied any interest in running for president in 2024, also said he grappled "extensively" with the question of testifying during the impeachment inquiry led by House Democrats last year. He has come under fierce criticism — particularly from Democrats — for failing to testify last year, with some critics questioning his patriotism. 

In turn, Bolton said he thought Democrats made a "strategic mistake" and disagreed with their argument that impeaching Trump will constrain his behavior. 

ADVERTISEMENT

"That is exactly the opposite of what happened. He was not just impeached. He was acquitted. So their actions did not form a deterrent against future similar conduct by Trump. They enabled. And I thought that was a mistake," Bolton said, describing their actions as "virtue signaling."

During the House impeachment inquiry last year, Bolton threatened to join a lawsuit filed by his deputy that challenged a subpoena for his testimony. Democrats gave up their pursuit for fear the legal challenge would help run out the clock.

Bolton then frustrated both parties and the White House by offering to testify during the Republican-controlled Senate impeachment trial. GOP senators ultimately defeated Democrats’ push to hear from witnesses. 

Bolton said he thought it a better course to put his observations into a book to help guide voters, who can decide whether Trump has another term.

"I'll stand by what I said in the book," Bolton said.