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Witnesses at Senate impeachment trial more likely after Bolton report

By
Don Jacobson
Former national security adviser John Bolton says in his upcoming book that he was told directly by President Donald Trump he withheld military aid from Ukraine in exchange for investigations into Joe Biden and his son. File Photo by Tasos Katopodis/UPI
Former national security adviser John Bolton says in his upcoming book that he was told directly by President Donald Trump he withheld military aid from Ukraine in exchange for investigations into Joe Biden and his son. File Photo by Tasos Katopodis/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 27 (UPI) -- A report by The New York Times may now persuade some key Republican senators to change their minds about allowing witnesses to testify in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.

At least two GOP senators have indicated as much following the report Sunday night, which said former national security adviser John Bolton admits in his forthcoming book that there was a connection between Trump's withholding aid to Ukraine last year in exchange for investigations of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

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Bolton says in his book, according to the Times report, that Trump directly told him he'd withheld the vital military aid because he wanted Ukraine to investigate the Bidens -- a connection Democrats have been trying to make for months.

Bolton's book was submitted last month to a government office to verify it contained no classified information, a standard practice for books involving federal officials. An attorney for Bolton said it's clear the Times somehow obtained the contents of the book as a result of that process.

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Trump denied Monday that he ever made such a statement to his former national security adviser.

"I NEVER told John Bolton that the aid to Ukraine was tied to investigations into Democrats, including the Bidens," he tweeted, adding that Bolton is just trying "to sell a book."

The influence of the Times report, however, may alter the ongoing Senate impeachment trial. Republicans have so far opposed calling witnesses, like Bolton, to testify in the proceeding. Democrats will need support from at least four Republican senators during a vote this week to include witnesses and new evidence that's emerged since the House impeached Trump last month.

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"I think it's increasingly likely that other Republicans will join those of us who think we should hear from John Bolton," Utah Sen. Mitt Romney said. "I've spoken with others who've opined upon this as well."

"The reports about John Bolton's book strengthen the case for witnesses and have prompted a number of conversations among my colleagues," Maine Sen. Susan Collins said in a statement.

The senators each said there was more support among their Republican colleagues for calling witnesses in view of the Times report.

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A vote on whether to allow witnesses is expected sometime this week, as early as Wednesday. Bolton has also said he's willing to testify if he was subpoenaed.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who has worked closely with Trump's defense team, has opposed including witnesses and has said he wants the trial to finish as soon as possible.

The impeachment trial resumed Monday afternoon with Trump's legal team continuing their opening arguments.

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