An explosive allegation concerning John Bolton has given new ammunition to Democrats’ demands for the Republican-controlled Senate to call the former national security adviser to testify at President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial.
The New York Times reported that the book manuscript Bolton submitted to the White House for review alleges that Trump told Bolton that he wanted to continue to withhold military aid to Ukraine until Ukraine assisted with investigations into Democrats, including presidential candidate Joe Biden.
Trump denied the allegation in a tweet on Sunday night. On Monday morning, Trump made another claim.
“The Democrat controlled House never even asked John Bolton to testify. It is up to them, not up to the Senate!” he said on Twitter.
Facts First: Trump’s claim is false. House Democrats sent Bolton an official request to testify. He declined to appear – because the White House did not authorize him to do so. Democrats did not seek to force him to testify, concerned about how long a legal battle over a subpoena would likely take, but they certainly did ask.
On October 30, House Intelligence Committee chair Rep. Adam Schiff, House Oversight Committee chair Rep. Carolyn Maloney and House Foreign Affairs Committee Rep. Eliot Engel sent a letter to Bolton’s lawyers requesting Bolton’s voluntary testimony at a deposition on November 7.
“Your client’s failure or refusal to appear at the deposition, including at the direction or behest of the President or the White House, shall constitute evidence of obstruction of the House’s impeachment inquiry and may be used as an adverse inference against the President,” they wrote.
Bolton’s lawyers said they stood ready to receive a subpoena seeking to compel his testimony. Democrats decided not to issue a subpoena, explaining that a court fight would allow the White House to delay the impeachment inquiry for months.
Bolton’s lawyers said they were “dismayed” at the decision not to subpoena him. They said Bolton and former deputy national security adviser Charles Kupperman, who are represented by the same lawyers, wanted a “definitive judgment from the Judicial Branch determining their Constitutional duty in the face of conflicting demands of the Legislative and Executive Branches.”
House Democrats did initially subpoena Kupperman. But they withdrew the subpoena during the resulting court case, choosing to keep the impeachment inquiry moving quickly rather than getting bogged down in court.
Democrats hoped that Bolton would abide by the result of a separate court case over a subpoena to former White House counsel Don McGahn. But Bolton’s lawyers argue that Bolton’s situation is distinct from McGahn’s because of Bolton’s involvement in sensitive national security issues.
Bolton said on January 6 that he would be willing to testify in the impeachment trial if he were subpoenaed by the Senate.