BFF-52 Bolton book revelations roil Trump impeachment trial

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US-POLITICS-IMPEACHMENT

Bolton book revelations roil Trump impeachment trial

WASHINGTON, Jan 27, 2020 (BSS/AFP) – White House lawyers were to resume
their defense of President Donald Trump at his Senate impeachment trial
Monday as explosive revelations from former national security advisor John
Bolton increased pressure on Republicans to call him as a witness.

Trump lashed out at Bolton on Twitter, denying he had ever told his former
aide that military assistance to Ukraine was tied to Kiev investigating his
political rival Joe Biden.

According to The New York Times, Bolton makes the bombshell allegation —
which is at the heart of the impeachment case against the president — in a
draft of his upcoming book.

“I never told John Bolton that the aid to Ukraine was tied to
investigations into Democrats, including the Bidens,” Trump said.

“In fact, he never complained about this at the time of his very public
termination. If John Bolton said this, it was only to sell a book.”

Speaking later to reporters, Trump said he had not yet seen the manuscript,
which was submitted to the White House for security clearance.

The Bolton revelations came as White House lawyers prepared to resume their
defense of the president in the Senate at 1:00 pm (1800 GMT).

In opening arguments on Saturday, White House counsel Pat Cipollone said
Trump had done nothing wrong and voters — not Congress — should decide in
November whether he should be removed from office.

Chief Democratic prosecutor Adam Schiff countered on CNN on Monday that
while the evidence of Trump’s guilt is “already overwhelming,” the Bolton
revelations “very dramatically” bolster the case.

“It completely blasts another hole in the president’s defense,” said
Schiff, who led the investigation that saw the president impeached by the
Democratic-controlled House of Representatives on December 18 for abuse of
power and obstruction of Congress.

– ‘Put John Bolton to the test’ –

“At the end of the day, this a test for the senators,” the California
lawmaker said. “The question they have to answer is ‘Do they want to hear the
truth?’

“Let’s put John Bolton to the test.”

Democrats have been seeking to call Bolton and other senior officials as
witnesses, a move resisted so far by the White House and Trump’s Republican
allies in the Senate.

Four Republicans will need to join forces with Democrats in the Senate —
where Republicans hold a 53 to 47 seat edge — to allow testimony from Bolton
and other witnesses.

Republican Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, an occasional Trump critic, said
Monday he believed there may be enough Republican backing to compel Bolton to
testify.

“It’s increasingly apparent that it would be important to hear from John
Bolton,” Romney told reporters. “I think it’s increasingly likely that other
Republicans will join those of us who think we should hear from John Bolton.”

Another Republican Senator, Susan Collins of Maine, also said the reports
about Bolton’s book “strengthen the case for witnesses.”

While just 51 senators are required to allow further trial witnesses, 67
senators — a two-thirds majority — are needed to remove Trump from office.

If the Senate does subpoena Bolton, the White House is likely to cite
executive privilege to try to send the matter to the courts and prevent him
from testifying.

House investigators asked Bolton to testify at their impeachment inquiry
but declined to subpoena him out of fear it would be tied up in the courts.

Bolton, who was fired by Trump in September after 17 months in the job, has
since said he was prepared to testify before the Senate.

– ‘Cover-up’ –

Citing Bolton’s unpublished manuscript, the Times said Trump told Bolton he
wanted to freeze $391 million in aid to Ukraine until it opened a probe into
Biden and his son Hunter, who served on the board of a Ukrainian gas company.

A key point of Trump’s impeachment defense has been that there was no quid-
pro-quo.

Trump’s team has maintained that the holdup in aid was not tied to his
requests for an investigation into the Bidens.

Bolton’s reported assertion in the manuscript would undercut this.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the Republican refusal to hear Bolton is
“now even more indefensible.”

“The choice is clear: our Constitution, or a cover-up,” she said.

Democratic Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer also urged Senate
Republicans to call for Bolton to testify.

“We’re all staring a White House cover-up in the face,” Schumer said.

BSS/AFP/FI/ 2255 hrs