Former national security adviser John Bolton said Monday that he is willing to testify in President Trump’s impeachment trial if he is subpoenaed.
“I have concluded that, if the Senate issues a subpoena for my testimony, I am prepared to testify,” Bolton said in a statement.
Bolton is among several present and former Trump administration officials Democrats would like to have testify, but there has been no indication that the Republican-controlled Senate will agree. He had been asked to appear at the Democrat-led House impeachment inquiry but was directed by the president not to comply. Bolton said he would await the decision of a federal judge in a related case before deciding whether to appear. That case has now been declared moot, and the House voted to impeach Trump without hearing from Bolton.
“The House has concluded its Constitutional responsibility by adopting Articles of Impeachment related to the Ukraine matter,” Bolton said. “It now falls to the Senate to fulfill its Constitutional obligation to try impeachments.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer says he wants testimony from Bolton as well as acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as part of the Senate trial, which is the next step in the impeachment process.
But while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell hasn’t ruled out calling witnesses, there are no signs he’d be willing to call Bolton, who according to U.S. officials had likened Trump’s efforts to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden in Ukraine to a “drug deal.”
McConnell has said he intends to start the trial without a decision on calling witnesses, the precedent set in the 1999 impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton.
Last week, Schumer cast doubt on McConnell’s sincerity, calling the idea “a poorly disguised trap.”
“We are not asking for critics of the president to serve as witnesses,” Schumer added. “We are asking only that the president’s men, his top advisers, tell their side of the story.”
Exactly if and when a Senate trial would begin is still up in the air.
In December, the House passed the articles of impeachment — one charging abuse of power, the other obstruction of Congress — against Trump. The next step would be to send the articles to the Senate for a trial that could lead to Trump’s acquittal or his removal from office. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has held off presenting them to the Senate, citing doubts that McConnell would permit a “fair” trial.
McConnell has said his efforts would be in “total coordination” with the White House and has made up his mind not to vote for conviction. Removal of the president requires a two-thirds majority in the Senate, which Republicans control by a 53-47 margin.
The trial cannot begin until Pelosi names impeachment managers — in effect, prosecutors — to transmit those articles to the Senate, and she has said she wants to know the rules for the trial before she chooses them.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who oversaw the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, said that the Senate must allow Bolton’s testimony.
“Bolton is an important witness to misconduct involving Ukraine that he called a ‘drug deal,’” Schiff tweeted. “Bolton refused to testify in the House, following Trump’s orders. Now he is willing to come forward. The Senate must allow testimony from him, Mulvaney and others. The coverup must end.”
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