John Bolton throws spanner in Trump impeachment trial

John Bolton

Former US national security adviser John Bolton has put new life into US President Donald Trump’s impending impeachment trial.

John Bolton, in a statement posted on his website, announced that he would testify if he is subpoenaed as part of any Senate impeachment trial of Trump.

On 18 December, the House of Representatives voted along party lines to impeach Trump on charges of criminal bribery and wire fraud. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who initiated the impeachment inquiry on 24 September, has yet to ask the Senate, which is controlled by Trump’s Republican Party, and is waiting until her conditions for an impeachment trial are met.

John Bolton, who was asked to testify as part of the House of Representative’s impeachment inquiry but refused to appear, wrote that he wants to meet his “obligations” both as a citizen and as a former top presidential adviser.

“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,” Bolton wrote. “I have concluded that, if the Senate issues a subpoena for my testimony, I am prepared to testify.”

Donald Trump

John Bolton was fired by Trump in September last year, after the US President was publicly unhappy and disagreed with Bolton on talks with North Korea Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un, pulling American troops out of Syria and for pushing for a meeting with Iranian leaders. John Bolton, an advocate for regime change in Iran, Syria, Libya, Venezuela, Cuba, Yemen and North Korea, had served in high-level positions in the administrations of presidents Ronald Reagan, George H W Bush and George W Bush.

A major point of contention is that the Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (Democrats) wants four witnesses to be called and additional document production to be allowed. Republicans, led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, has responded by stating the Democrats’ proposals would only be considered once the trial had begun.

“It is now up to four Senate Republicans to support bringing in Mr. Bolton,” Schumer said in a statement on his Twitter page, renewing his demand for three other witnesses to appear for testimony: acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, top Mulvaney aide Robert Blair and senior budget official Michael Duffey. All three refused to appear for testimony before House impeachment investigators.

“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,” said Schumer, noting that Bolton’s lawyer has already said his client has information to share with investigators that has not been previously disclosed.

The statement from Bolton, who has remained relatively quiet since Trump fired him last year, provides Senate Democrats with a new weapon as they seek to exert pressure on Republicans to call witnesses and seek documentary evidence to add to the House’s articles of impeachment.

A Senate subpoena requires at least 51 votes, and four Republicans would need to vote with Democrats to reach that total.

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