Impeachment trial of President Trump
GOP Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah reiterated demands to call for John Bolton to testify, saying he’s had discussions with some of his colleagues on the matter.
He predicted that it's "increasingly likely" that there would be others who would join him.
"I think it's increasingly likely that other Republicans will join those of us who think we should hear from John Bolton, Romney said."
The numbers: If all 47 senators who caucus with the Democrats vote for witnesses, at least four GOP senators would need to join them in order to pass a motion.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misquoted Romney. He said it is "increasingly likely that other Republicans will join those of us who think we should hear from John Bolton."
Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine, said “the reporting on John Bolton strengthens the case for witnesses and has prompted a number of conversations among my colleagues.”
“I think fairness requires us to allow both sides to present their cases before we move to the issue of witnesses, and I've worked very hard to get language in the governing resolution that would ensure a vote on whether or not to call witnesses and subpoena other documents,” she told a small group of reporters in the Capitol.
“I’ve also said from the beginning that it was very likely that I would vote for witness. And that has not changed," she added.
Collins is one of three GOP senators who have signaled they could vote to allow witnesses at trial. If all 47 senators who caucus with the Democrats vote for witnesses, at least four GOP senators would need to join them in order to pass a motion.
Collins' comments came shortly after she put out a short, similar statement on Twitter:
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said former national security adviser John Bolton's manuscript is "stunning." He called on Senate Republicans to vote to hear from witnesses, such as Bolton, at the trial.
"Ambassador Bolton essentially confirms the President committed the offenses charged in the first article of impeachment. It boils down to one thing: We have a witness with firsthand evidence of the President's actions for which he is on trial. He is ready and willing to testify," he said.
Schumer asked: "How can Senate Republicans not vote to call that witness and request his documents?"
Schumer said GOP senators who claim "the House case lacks eyewitnesses" and then vote against hearing from witnesses are "talking out of both sides of their mouth."
Chief Justice John Roberts appeared briefly on the Supreme Court bench today, his 65th birthday, to swear in a roomful of military lawyers to the Supreme Court bar. Roberts was joined by five other members of the court.
Earlier in the morning, the Supreme Court had issued an orders list, but did not act on big pending issues including religious liberty, LGBT rights, the Second Amendment and immigration.
Roberts is due at the Senate, to preside over the impeachment trial, at 1 p.m. ET.
The justices are now on recess: They are expected back at court on Feb. 21 for a closed door conference and then arguments and potential opinions the week of Feb. 24.
It seems the impeachment may have slowed down the release of opinions. Last year at this time the court had issued eight, this term they’ve only issued four.
Even though the justices are on recess from the bench, they will still respond to emergency orders and accept petitions. We could get an order on the Trump administration’s public charge rule as early as today, as well as the Trump filing on the president’s bid to keep his financial documents shielded from release.
House Democratic aides say they are focused on the Senate trial and getting former national security adviser John Bolton to testify there. They refused to say what their strategy is for Bolton if he doesn’t appear before the Senate.
Democratic aides would not discuss whether they are preparing to seek Bolton’s testimony in the House in light of the revelations in his draft book manuscript that the President connected withholding US aid to investigating the Bidens, declining to discuss any efforts to obtain Bolton’s testimony or his notes beyond saying the Senate should subpoena them.
“The appropriate place for John Bolton to testify is in that trial in the Senate,” one aide said. “That’s what the focus is, that’s where he should testify, and that’s what we are planning on.”
House impeachment manager Adam Schiff told CNN this morning that he is more interested in John Bolton’s notetaking than Bolton’s book manuscript.
“These notes took place while the events were happening, while they were fresh in his mind. Those in many respects are more important than the manuscript," he said.
A reminder: John Bolton was widely known as a diligent notetaker during his time at the National Security Council, multiple people told CNN. Bolton was frequently seen clutching a yellow legal pad around the White House, which he also took to meetings.
“These notes took place while the events were happening, while they were fresh in his mind," Schiff said. "Those in many respects are more important than the manuscript. So we ought to not only have John Bolton testify but we ought to see what he wrote down in his notes at the time."
Former national security adviser John Bolton’s upcoming book blindsided senior White House officials and GOP senators who now want to know more about Bolton’s side of the story as laid out in his manuscript, multiple sources close to the process told CNN.
GOP senators may now be open to the idea of Bolton testifying in a classified setting, Republican sources close to the process said.
Others may want to learn more about the manuscript, those sources said, with one GOP official noting Bolton has more credibility than Giuliani associate Lev Parnas. Still, another official stated the obvious: Bolton is selling a book.
Bolton’s book also took top aides by surprise at the White House, two senior officials said.
Another source familiar with conversations ongoing since the Bolton news broke told CNN that the White House is hearing from Republican senators who are frustrated that at least someone in the White House had the Bolton manuscript since the end of December and they were kept in the dark.
The question is what to do about it. Seeking more information from Bolton could prolong the trial, Republican sources said, something Majority Leader McConnell doesn’t want.
Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican and former Senate Majority Whip, downplayed the significance of former national security adviser John Bolton's revelation that Trump wanted to continue holding military aid to Ukraine until the country helped with investigations into Democrats.
Cornyn said the timing around this was suspicious and accused Democrats of having a "credibility problem."
When pressed by CNN's Suzanne Malveaux that Bolton's manuscript is inconsistent with what the White House defense team has been saying, Cornyn disagreed.
"I don't think so because they said the aid did flow and the investigation never occurred so really we are talking about events that never happened," he said.
Chief Justice John Roberts, who has been presiding over the Senate impeachment trial, is celebrating his 65th birthday today.
He's expected to preside over the trial when the Senate reconvenes at 1 p.m. ET.