A key component of the White House’s defense against the impeachment case against President Donald Trump fell further apart this week with the revelation from his former national security adviser John Bolton that he’d personally and explicitly tied delayed military aid for Ukraine to his pressure for the country to investigate the Bidens. According to Bolton — no, the aid delay wasn’t some kind of altruistic move meant to ensure the money would be well spent or something. It was designed to support the president’s personal political agenda. Now, Axios reporter Jonathan Swan has revealed how the White House has been freaking out in response to the revelations.
Apparently, the news — which came in the form of a draft of Bolton’s upcoming book — caught the White House by surprise, and The New York Times knew about it first.
‘The significance there is it helps explain why this rattled the White House so much when the New York Times approached them for comment yesterday. The White House press and communications shop — the people who are charged with crafting a narrative, responding, getting out in front of damaging stories — didn’t know of the existence of this manuscript, let alone the details.’
And that doesn’t exactly bode well for the longevity of the president’s attempts at a defense.
As Swan pointed out:
‘So it sort of shows a number of things: the lack of coordination inside, but also just the way this is moving and the fact that this story more than any other story during impeachment actually has the potential to change the dynamics on Capitol Hill.’
In theory, the manuscript revelations could put more pressure on at least a key group of moderate Republicans to actually bring in Bolton for testimony as part of Trump’s trial. Bolton has already explicitly and publicly said that if subpoenaed, he’d be willing to testify as part of the Senate proceedings. Although even his testimony might not sway Republican Senators who’ve already gone all in for the president, his appearance could further cement the record of what Trump did and present the case to the American people too.
For his part, Trump took to Twitter this Monday morning to directly attack Bolton’s allegations. He directly denied the key point, writing:
‘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.’
…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
Trump has publicly lied well over 10,000 times since taking office. He is not a trustworthy source on just about anything, let alone this already sensitive topic. His public explanations for scandals have already done complete turnarounds, and there’s no reason to think now is any different.
The question of whether or not to hear from witnesses like Bolton is set to be again formally considered after opening arguments and initial questions from Senators. This Monday morning, the president’s defense team was slated to continue their attempt to making the president’s case on the stand in the Senate.