Former White House national security advisor John Bolton said on Monday he is willing to testify in the Senate impeachment trial if subpoenaed. His decision comes at a time of mounting pressure on Senate Republicans to call additional witnesses following Senator Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell three weeks ago.
In the letter, Schumer called for the testimony of more than four officials, including White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and John Bolton. Schumer argued, “The issue of witnesses and documents, which are the most important issues facing us, should be decided before we move forward with any part of the trial.”
Bolton’s declaration has increased the pressure on McConnell to agree with Schumer’s demands. His testimony, furthermore, could have huge implications for the impeachment trial and could be damning for President Trump. Unlike other witnesses that have come forward, Bolton is expected to have direct knowledge of the President’s actions surrounding Ukraine.
“Accordingly, since my testimony is once again at issue, I have had to resolve the serious competing issues as best I could, based on careful consideration and study. I have concluded that, if the Senate issues a subpoena for my testimony, I am prepared to testify.”John Bolton
Charles J. Cooper, John Bolton’s lawyer, stated that Bolton has information about “many relevant meetings and conversations” that has not yet come to light in the investigation. If Republicans are indeed planning to be in total coordination with the White House, they have every reason to try and block the subpoena.
Democrats, however, have jumped on Bolton’s statement, calling on Senate Republicans to allow his testimony among others. On the floor of the Senate, Schumer said, “Given that Mr. Bolton’s lawyers have stated he has new relevant information to share, if any Senate Republican opposes issuing subpoenas to the four witnesses and documents we have requested, they would make absolutely clear they are participating in a cover-up.”
It appears, however, that McConnell remains unconvinced. In earlier criticism, McConnell dismissed Schumer’s witness request and critiqued it for wanting to commit the Senate to “redoing the House Democrats’ slapdash work for them.” In other words, the Senate should rely on the evidence used in the House impeachment proceedings. This sentiment falls in line with other Senate Republicans, including Marco Rubio of Florida.
Fortunately for Democrats, they would only need a simple majority of 51 votes in order to subpoena Bolton and other witnesses. Removing the President, however, remains much less likely as there would have to be a considerable number of Republican defections in order to reach the 67 votes required.