President Trump’s impeachment trial was upended and turned on its head with a bombshell report that the president told former national security adviser John Bolton he didn’t want to release military aid to Ukraine until that country helped with investigations that could hurt Democrats, particularly presidential candidate Joe Biden.
The New York Times reported that Charles Cooper, a lawyer for Bolton, said he provided a copy of Bolton’s new book that contains the damaging information, to the White House just before the new year. Cooper said he wanted administration officials to review the book for classified information.
At the heart of the Democrats’ case for impeachment are allegations that Trump struck a quid-pro-quo agreement with Ukrainian officials to dig up dirt on Biden.
According to the New York Times, Bolton alleges in his book — “The Room Where it Happened,” that debuts March 17 — that Trump explicitly told him “he wanted to continue freezing $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine until officials there helped with investigations into Democrats including the Bidens.”
The new information appears to bolster the Democrats case as they argue for Trump’s removal in a GOP-controlled, and unwilling, Senate.
“I never told John Bolton that the aid to Ukraine was tied to investigations into Democrats, including the Bidens,” Trump tweeted following the report.
Frightening for Trump is whether the bombshell report will force Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to allow witnesses in the impeachment trial, which Republicans have steadfastly opposed.
McConnell has said he wouldn’t allow witnesses or documents until later in the trial.
However, the New York Times reported that McConnell and South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, have sought an explanation from the White House about Bolton’s book.
Democrats would need four Republicans to vote in favor of calling witnesses.
MSN reported that Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), could now favor calling witnesses.
“It’s important to be able to hear from John Bolton for us to be able to make an impartial judgment,” Romney told reporters on Capitol Hill.
“It’s increasingly likely that other Republicans will join those of us who think we should hear from John Bolton. … I have spoken with others who have opined upon this,” Romney said.
Further, “the reports about John Bolton’s book strengthen the case for witnesses and have prompted a number of conversations among my colleagues,” Collins said.
Prior to the Bolton bombshell, Colorado Democratic Rep. Jason Crow helped closed out the first week in the impeachment trial by noting how lightly Republicans and Trump had taken the proceedings.
“This defense would be laughable if this issue wasn’t so serious,” Crow said in response to the president’s legal team imploring impeachment managers and jurors that the trial should essentially be about unfounded allegations from Trump that Biden committed some sort of crime in Ukraine.
“Real people, real lives are at stake,” Crow said. “Just ask the Ukranians sitting in the trenches right now.”
Last week, Senate Republicans rejected 11 amendments to McConnell’s rules resolution that would have subpoenaed critical documents from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the Department of Defense, the Department of State and the White House, and testimony from Bolton, acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and his senior adviser Robert Blair, and OMB official Michael Duffey.
The amendments were sought by Democrats, who said they would ensure a fair trial as impeachment proceedings got underway in the nation’s capital.
Some of the amendments rejected by Senate Republicans would have made changes to the McConnell resolution to ensure fundamental fairness, according to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).
“I publicly offered to delay some of the votes to spare everyone from staying late, but Leader McConnell was so unwilling to let the trial of President Trump go on for one session longer than he had planned,” Schumer said. “He declined to delay any votes. It seems the only reason Senator McConnell refused to move votes back a day is because it would interfere with the timeline he promised the president.
“Not what’s a fair trial, not what’s letting the American people hear what they have to hear, but just what President Trump, the defendant here, wanted,” he said. “Now, if there’s one thing we learned from the series of votes on the Senate floor, it’s that Leader McConnell and Senate Republicans don’t want a fair trial that considers all the evidence.”