The leaked passages of John Bolton’s upcoming book reiterate an indisputable fact: Trump’s former National Security Advisor is the Democrats’ would-be star witness of the impeachment trial, and the odds of Bolton testifying on Capitol Hill have just changed in the Democrats’ favor.
Bolton has made his return into the spotlight of the political warzone Washington resembles these days. With the leaked manuscript of his upcoming book, the impeachment conflict is about to be exacerbated yet again. Bolton could become the Democrat’s star witness, as the book’s content provides precisely what the party has been claimed all along: impeachable offenses by the president based on pressuring Ukraine into investigating a political rival.
While Bolton did not testify during the hearing in the House – the White House had instructed all current and former government officials not to cooperate due to executive privilege, he had even then been considered the key to impeachment. The reason was the testimony of former top consultant and respected Russian expert Fiona Hill. Hill testified back during the investigation conducted by the intelligence committee, that, inter alia, Bolton had said to her he did not want anything to do with “whatever kind of drug deal” has been agreed upon by Trump and Ukraine’s president.
Bolton was reportedly appalled when he heard about the campaign against Trump’s political opponents, which Rudy Giuliani and others in Ukraine were pushing forward. Particularly Giuliani, Bolton said, according to Hill’s testimony, was “a hand grenade that will blow everyone up.”
The revelations now, however, touch the core of the allegations in the impeachment proceedings. In the book, Bolton writes that Trump had instructed him to hold back military aid to Ukraine that has been lawfully voted on by Congress until the Ukrainian government starts the investigation, including against his political rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
Moreover, and in addition to Bolton himself, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Minister Mark Esper had also flatly rejected the questionable course of action against Ukraine, and they had spoken to Trump about it a dozen times. Bolton had also warned Attorney General William Barr and White House lawyers about Giuliani’s activities.
According to Bolton’s book, Pompeo had also admitted that circulating allegations against the US ambassador in Kyiv, Marie Yovanovitch, who was subsequently fired, were not justified. Yovanovitch appeared to be standing in the way of unsavory efforts to stir up supposed dirt in Ukraine over Trump’s political opponents at the direct order of the White House, which she continued to refuse. The latter had become even more evident with the release of a secretly recorded video that has the president saying, “get rid of her.”
However, Bolton’s book might only be the beginning, as he may have more to offer, and now, he has indicated his proclivity to testify.
The president’s defense counsel, on the other hand, might be faced with a conundrum. So far, Republicans had denied requests for additional witnesses due to a lack of evidence and a lack of direct charges against the president. Bolton could become the game-changer, however, and Republicans as are cognizant of it. Moreover, it is even conceivable that some of them have been aware of the book’s content, which has been in the White House for approval since late December – a standard procedure for (ex) government officials to prevent information that is legally classified as confidential from being released.
While a sudden change, of course, remains highly unlikely, just as the president’s removal, some of the Republicans have begun to position themselves on the matter, and the now changed circumstances. Mitt Romney, for one, has already stated that he would like to hear a testimony of Bolton. Romney also said that he believes that more Republicans will likely follow. If at least four moderate Republicans will support the Democrats in their demand for Bolton testimony, the best of, so far, a rather tedious trial is yet to come.
Furthermore, while removal is still highly unlikely, even with these revelations, it offers the Democrats to conclude the trial without losing face and by putting a significant strain on the president’s legacy – which could be a deciding factor in November.