President Donald Trump and his allies in the Senate are trying to make sure that former national security adviser John Bolton cannot testify at the impeachment trial, The Washington Post reports.
Trial rules set forth by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will delay the Senate vote on whether to allow witnesses at the trial until after the arguments have been presented. If a majority of senators vote to allow subpoenaing witnesses, as is expected, they will first be deposed in private before the Senate votes again on whether to allow them to testify publicly.
"McConnell is expected to ensure that those individuals are questioned in a closed-door session rather than a public setting," the Post reported, and Bolton's deposition could be moved to "a classified setting because of national security concerns, ensuring that it is not public."
Battle could wage in courts:
Trump told Fox News’ Laura Ingraham last week that he would assert executive privilege if Bolton is called to testify. Bolton said he would testify if he is subpoenaed.
“I think you have to for the sake of the office,” Trump told Ingraham.
The White House suggested to Republican lawmakers that it may appeal to the federal courts to seek an injunction to block Bolton’s testimony, according to The Post.
Seeking to classify Bolton’s testimony would be the “final tool against Bolton becoming an explosive figure in the trial,” The Post reported.
“The deliberations also suggest that some in the president’s circle are uneasy about what Bolton might say,” The Post reported. “While some refuse to view him as a political threat and cast him as a conservative operative who wants a future in a Trump-dominated Republican Party, others predict that he could upend the president’s fourth year in office with his testimony, since he is known as a lawyer with a sharp memory for meetings and policy.”
Trump falsely claims Bolton out of the loop:
Trump claimed earlier this month that Bolton "would know nothing about what we're talking about" if he testified at the trial.
But numerous witnesses testified that Bolton took copious notes during his time in the White House and pushed back on the Ukraine scheme that led to Trump’s impeachment.
“I am not part of whatever drug deal [EU Ambassador Gordon] Sondland and [acting chief of staff Mick] Mulvaney are cooking up,” Bolton told former National Security Council official Fiona Hill, directing her to contact the White House lawyers about the scheme.
Former National Security Council official Tim Morrison testified that Bolton pushed Trump to release the military aid he blocked to Ukraine.
Bolton’s lawyer confirmed last year that he was a "part of many relevant meetings and conversations."