Impeachment trial of President Trump

By Meg Wagner, Mike Hayes and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 10:14 p.m. ET, January 27, 2020
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10:14 a.m. ET, January 27, 2020

White House officials and GOP senators were blindsided by Bolton's book

From CNN's Jim Acosta and Dana Bash

Alex Wong/Getty Images
Alex Wong/Getty Images

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.

10:17 a.m. ET, January 27, 2020

GOP senator downplays Bolton's manuscript

From CNN's Suzanne Malveaux

Zach Gibson/Getty Images
Zach Gibson/Getty Images

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. 
9:53 a.m. ET, January 27, 2020

Chief Justice John Roberts will preside over the trial on his birthday today

From CNN's Joan Biskupic

Senate TV/Getty Images
Senate TV/Getty Images

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.

9:45 a.m. ET, January 27, 2020

No White House personnel had access to Bolton manuscript, National Security Council says

From CNN's Joe Johns and Jeremy Diamond

Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images
Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

The National Security Council said in a statement this morning that former national security adviser John Bolton's manuscript is under "initial review," and that no White House personnel outside the NSC have reviewed it. 

Here's the statement statement from National Security Council spokesperson John Ullyot:

“Ambassador Bolton’s manuscript was submitted to the NSC for pre-publication review and has been under initial review by the NSC. No White House personnel outside NSC have reviewed the manuscript.” 
9:13 a.m. ET, January 27, 2020

What to watch ahead of the impeachment trial today

From CNN's Phi Mattingly

President Trump's legal team will continue giving their opening arguments when the Senate impeachment trial resumes this afternoon.

Here's what we're watching today:

  • 11 a.m. ET: Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer will hold a news conference.
  • 11:30 a.m. and noon ET: There will be closed-door Senate lunches.
  • 1 p.m. ET: The US Senate gavels into session for the Senate impeachment trial.
9:03 a.m. ET, January 27, 2020

Adam Schiff on Bolton claims: "It completely blasts another hole in the President's defense"

From CNN's Ali Main

Lead House impeachment manger Rep. Adam Schiff told CNN that former national security adviser John Bolton's revelation that President Trump directly tied investigations into political opponents to the hold on Ukraine military aid undercuts the President's defense. 

"It completely blasts another hole in the President's defense," Schiff said this morning on CNN's "New Day."

Schiff also said the new allegation means that Senators are "hard pressed" not to hear more from Bolton. 

"The question is, are the senators willing to her the truth?" Schiff said. 

Schiff added:

"This is the reason John Bolton has offered to testify in the Senate. He's got a book coming out in March. He also does not want to be in a position of withholding this information until his book comes out ... Now, that's not an excuse, frankly, for his failure to testify in the house. He should have come to the house. He should not have threatened to sue us if we subpoenaed him."

What this is all about: Trump in August told Bolton that he wanted to continue holding military aid to Ukraine until the country helped with investigations into Democrats — including former Vice President Joe Biden — the New York Times reported Sunday, citing multiple people's descriptions of an unpublished draft manuscript by Bolton.

A source with direct knowledge of the manuscript told CNN the New York Times' telling of Bolton's account of the Ukraine aid hold discussion with Trump is accurate.

8:55 a.m. ET, January 27, 2020

GOP senators have a lot to think about as Trump's lawyers enter day 2 of opening arguments

From CNN's Phil Mattingly

Call it the October surprise of President Trump’s impeachment trial. 

John Bolton, the former national security adviser who has been playing his own personal game of footsie with impeachment negotiators for months, has written in a draft book manuscript that the President did, in fact, condition US security assistance to Ukraine on investigations into a political rival.

He represents a first-hand witness. He represents direct knowledge. He represents everything the White House defense team said in their Saturday presentation on the Senate floor didn't exist. 

Here's the bottom line: 24 hours ago, the impeachment trial was on track to be wrapped up by Friday or Saturday of this week. A vote to move to consider witnesses was short of GOP votes and how quick Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell could move to the vote to acquit had become the central question in GOP circles.

For the moment, all of that is scrambled and extremely fluid. Could it still end up that way? Yes. But GOP senators have an awful lot more on their mind as the White House defense team continues its presentation today. 

8:37 a.m. ET, January 27, 2020

White House says John Bolton claims are "not true"

From CNN's Allie Malloy 

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham just appeared on Fox News and gave her first reaction to the New York Times report on former national security adviser John Bolton’s book.

She questioned the timing of the report and repeated multiple times it is “not true.”

Grisham also said she didn’t know if the National Security Council had many any edits to Bolton’s book, but added:

“Now, I don’t know if they have done anything if they have made any edits yet for the national security and if there’s any classified information out there. But if there is, that’s very, very dangerous precedent to set once again.”

Some background: The New York Times report said Trump in August told Bolton that he wanted to continue holding military aid to Ukraine until the country helped with investigations into Democrats — including former Vice President Joe Biden. The report cited multiple people's descriptions of an unpublished draft manuscript by Bolton.

8:31 a.m. ET, January 27, 2020

Trump's legal team used 2 hours on their 1st day of opening arguments. Democrats used 8.

White House counsel spent just two hours on Saturday — their first of three days for opening arguments — arguing the President's case.

Compare that to the Democratic House managers, who spoke for around eight hours during their first day of arguments.

"You've heard the House managers speak for nearly 24 hours over three days. We don't anticipate using that much time," White House counsel Pat Cipollone said at the start of the day. "We don't believe that they have come anywhere close to meeting their burden for what they're asking you to do," he said.

Trump's defense team used just under two hours of their time on Saturday morning. They have about 22 hours left to argue their case.

During the presentation from House managers Friday, Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, said he spoke with President Trump after one of the proceedings this week and he gave him his thoughts about them so far.

Graham, an ally of the President, said Trump thought Democratic House manager Adam Schiff "did a bad job." But Graham said he told Trump that Schiff did a "pretty good job."

He added that Trump was "bored" by the proceedings.