Former Obama National Security Adviser Susan Rice grilled John Bolton on his decision to not testify during the House impeachment inquiry during a discussion Wednesday at Vanderbilt University.
According to NBC News, Bolton expressed his surprise that Senate Republicans did not seek his testimony in the Senate impeachment trial. Bolton also argued that his testimony wouldn’t have stopped President Trump’s acquittal anyway, because he thought “the House committed impeachment malpractice,” which “drove Republicans who might have voted for impeachment away.”
“It was so partisan,” Bolton said, before adding that his testimony “would have made no difference to the ultimate outcome.”
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) was the only Republican who voted to convict Trump in the Senate impeachment trial earlier this month.
Rice then tore into Bolton, saying that she “can’t imagine withholding my testimony with or without a subpoena” nor could she imagine “not having exercised my First Amendment right to speak publicly at a time when my testimony or my experience would be relevant.”
“And, frankly, when my subordinates … were doing their duty and responding in a fashion consistent with their legal obligations to provide information,” Rice said, pointing to the backlash that former National Security Council officials Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and Fiona Hill faced after their impeachment inquiry testimonies.
Rice also cited her experience as a former national security adviser when criticizing Bolton’s decision to withhold his impeachment inquiry testimony.
“That, for me, makes it even more difficult, as a former national security adviser, for me to imagine not being willing to come forward,” Rice said. “I would feel like I was shamefully violating the oath that I took to support and defend the Constitution.”
Bolton responded by noting how he offered to testify in the Senate trial and that the House decided not to subpoena him after Democrats learned that he would tie it up in the courts. Bolton also wouldn’t say whether he would testify before the House now if he is subpoenaed, given how his lawyer advised him against taking a position after the White House issued a letter last month seeking to block the publication of certain parts of his book that contain “significant amounts of classified information.”
Bolton added that he’s “not out here flacking” for his book “The Room Where It Happened,” which continues to undergo a national security review, and that he believes the Trump administration would sue him if he discussed the book’s contents before the review is complete.
“I believe I wrote a book that does not contain any classified information. The staff reviewing it says it does,” Bolton said. “But for all those who say that I should just spill my guts here or anywhere else, make no mistake in the back of the position that there’s classified information in the manuscript is the implied threat of criminal prosecution.”
Read NBC News’ report here.