An episode in former National Security Adviser John Bolton’s unpublished manuscript seems to be swaying at least a couple moderate Republicans to call for witnesses’ inclusion in the Senate impeachment trial.
Bolton wrote of a meeting with President Donald Trump last August, where the President directly tied the Ukraine financial aid to investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Trump has denied that he ever made such comments.
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) led the charge Monday morning, saying that it seems “increasingly likely” that other Republicans will want to hear from Bolton.
“It’s increasingly apparent that it would be important to hear from John Bolton,” Romney added. “I, of course, will make a final decision on witnesses after we have heard from not only the prosecution but also the defense. But I think at this stage it’s pretty fair to say that John Bolton has a relevant testimony.”
Romney: ‘Increasingly likely’ other Senate Republicans will want to hear from John Bolton pic.twitter.com/uqQBWAqGH9
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) January 27, 2020
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) chimed in with her own statement, saying that the revelation “strengthened” the case for witnesses and that it “prompted a number of conversations” with her peers.
My statement on Bolton developments. pic.twitter.com/3M59J7suts
— Sen. Susan Collins (@SenatorCollins) January 27, 2020
On the other side of the aisle, Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL), who has been more decisive about the need for witnesses, advocated on CNN for the need for a “full, fair and complete trial” after the Bolton revelation.
Whether or not witnesses will be included in the trial has been the biggest unknown variable as the impeachment process unfolds. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has been advising Trump that witness testimony, unpredictable and hard to control, would not help his case. Democrats have been lobbying for Bolton, among others, to be included in the proceedings for weeks, though they need four Republican votes to get it done.
Witness inclusion has also become one of the primary Democratic talking points as Trump’s lawyers hammer that there is no firsthand evidence of Trump’s wrongdoing from the House’s inquiry. Of course, that’s because a hostile White House and ignored subpoenas let the biggest players avoid the hearings unscathed.
Bolton’s bombshell reveal could alter that calculus.