New revelations from President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton could drive an approval for witness testimony at Trump’s ongoing Senate impeachment trial, POLITICO notes. In a manuscript copy of his upcoming new book, Bolton reveals that Trump personally tied delayed military aid for Ukraine to whether or not the country opened an investigation into the Bidens. That bribery plot has driven the impeachment proceedings against him, and with Bolton’s new revelation, the president’s defense team’s claims that he was delaying the aid for some reason other than political expedience falls further apart.
And now, POLITICO’s Melanie Zanona notes:
‘The revelation has the potential to jump-start a sputtering Democratic effort to convince at least four Senate Republicans to break ranks and support calls for additional witness testimony… This is yet another reminder that the Ukraine investigation is still rapidly unfolding despite its ostensible conclusion in December when the House impeached Trump.’
There are just a handful of perceived moderate Republicans who could defect from the main party line of complete opposition to hearing from witnesses during the trial. That short list includes Utah’s Mitt Romney, Maine’s Susan Collins, Tennessee’s Lamar Alexander, and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, and that’s pretty much it. Alexander is retiring at the end of his current term, and Collins is facing a tough re-election battle — her race is designated a toss-up by the Cook Political Report — but it’s still unclear if they’ll actually support witnesses.
Still, it might be harder for them to make a show of fairness if they don’t, considering Bolton’s revelations. As POLITICO pointedly puts it, “the new revelations could dramatically alter the trajectory of the trial and put Republicans in an increasingly difficult position as they, for the most part, continue to oppose bringing in additional witnesses.”
You’d think that hearing from witnesses would be a given if Republican leaders were actually attempting to make a show of fairness — but lo and behold, they’re not. Before the trial ever even started, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and the chamber’s Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) insisted that they would not be impartial jurors, although that’s in stark contrast with the oath that they took when the trial actually got underway.
Now, the question of whether or not to hear from witnesses is set to be again considered after opening arguments conclude and Senators submit their questions for the respective sides. (Republicans already voted down Democratic attempts to call witnesses at the beginning of the trial.) The president’s defense team prepared the bulk of their own opening arguments for Monday and Tuesday, although they might not have been planning for the bombshell of a direct contradiction to some of their main arguments.
Trump has directly denied Bolton’s allegation, tweeting:
‘I NEVER told John Bolton that the aid to Ukraine was tied to investigations into Democrats, including the Bidens. In fact, he never complained about this at the time of his very public termination.’
But it’s the word of a documented serial liar versus Bolton and the bulk of the evidence at this point.
…transcripts of my calls with President Zelensky are all the proof that is needed, in addition to the fact that President Zelensky & the Foreign Minister of Ukraine said there was no pressure and no problems. Additionally, I met with President Zelensky at the United Nations…
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 27, 2020