Although President Donald Trump’s abruptly ordered airstrike that killed top Iranian General Qassem Soleimani has turned a lot of attention towards the possibility of further violent conflict between the U.S. and Iran, Trump remains impeached and the case against him is still awaiting a Senate trial. Now, as Democrats pressure their Republican colleagues to allow for fairness at that trial, which in Dems’ arguments should include witnesses, former Trump national security adviser John Bolton has suddenly announced that he’s willing to testify if subpoenaed, which could put some spring in the step of those advocating for a fair trial.
Axios notes that he’s likely to have a lot of details to share considering accounts of him as an avid note-taker. As reporter Jonathan Swan put it, Bolton “was the most prolific note-taker at the top level of the White House and probably has more details than any impeachment inquiry witness, so far, about President Trump’s machinations on Ukraine.”
Notes of those with whom the president quarreled have already come back to haunt him in cases like that of former FBI Director James Comey, who revealed how Trump tried to get him to drop an investigation into an associate. In this case, Bolton had previously resisted testifying, but there’s been no court ruling on his role since House impeachment investigators who brought the case declined to issue a subpoena at all.
Noting in reference to his legal challenges to testimony demands that “it does not appear possible that a final judicial resolution of the still-unanswered Constitutional questions can be obtained before the Senate acts,” Bolton said this Monday:
‘Accordingly, since my testimony is once again at issue, I have had to resolve the serious competing issues as best I could, based on careful consideration and study. I have concluded that, if the Senate issues a subpoena for my testimony, I am prepared to testify.’
Besides Bolton, Democrats have been angling for White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and others. The problem is that Republican leaders like Mitch McConnell (Ky.) have directly derided the idea of calling witnesses for the trial, insisting that would turn the proceedings into a “fishing expedition.” Democrats would have to turn four moderate Republicans away from that GOP party line in order to secure a majority that could vote in favor of calling witnesses like Bolton, and a couple, including Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Susan Collins (Maine), have already indicated they’re hesitant to support the Republican plan of throwing the whole case out.
Bolton’s perspective could shine some light on opposition inside the administration to the president’s plan to hold up military aid for Ukraine while he and his closest associates like lawyer Rudy Giuliani tried to get the country to investigate Trump’s domestic political opponents. The revelation of that plot has driven the impeachment inquiry, and fellow former Trump administration official and previous impeachment witness Fiona Hill already told Congress that Bolton opposed the scheme, which he called a “drug deal” when asking her to consult with National Security Council lawyers about the issue.
Further suggesting he could be ready to spill some secrets, his departure from the administration altogether was acrimonious, with competing accounts of what preceded it.