How Bolton's Allegations Could Change the Impeachment Trial



It's the second week of the Senate impeachment trial of president trump and there's a new wildcard in the mix John Bolton a draft of the former national security advisers memoir was leaked over the weekend in it. He reportedly writes that. President trump told him he wanted to freeze aid to Ukraine until the country. Aidid investigations into Democrats including his political rival former vice president. Joe Biden the allegation strike at the center of the impeachment inquiry and could change the dynamics in the Senate or the President's defense team is making their arguments today. Joining me now with more details is Wall Street Journal Executive Washington editor Jerry. seib Jerry this leak from John Bolton's upcoming book is throwing a lot of uncertainty into the Senate impeachment trial. Democrats are renewing their calls for Bolton to testify and it could prompt president trump's defense to tweak their strategy. How do you think this could change what we see in the next few days of the impeachment trial well I think it has to immediate impacts one is I think it affects or could affect at least the tactics? The president's defense team uses as it moves through its phase days of the arguments in the Senate it has been essentially trying to have it both ways to say there was no quid pro quo when the president asks Ukraine for Investigations Investigations into corruption. In the Biden's there was no threat of withholding military aid at the same time so there was no quid pro quo. But and secondly even if there there was such a quid pro quo. It would have been perfectly within the president's rights to ask for that because he was interested in getting to the bottom of corruption Ukraine. I think now that you have John Bolton saying saying well yes there was a quid pro quo. The president told me that he was going to withhold aid until the Ukrainians started investigating the Biden's that now I think the president's defense team probably has to fall back on the well. That was perfectly acceptable argument. So I think it changes and somewhat restricts their ability to argue their case the second effect and probably conceivably conceivably the more important one is that it increases dramatically the chances that there will be a vote in the Senate to call witnesses once. The President's defense team has done making. It's case in to do that. You'd have four. Republican senators agree with all the Democrats. Witnesses ought to be called including John Bolton on Saturday. That didn't seem very likely Egli to happen on Monday. After the Bolton revelation. I think it's much more likely and that in turn I imagine could open the door to calling more witnesses besides Bolton right exactly exactly because once you open that door there are a lot of things that can happen and the Democrats are equally eager to hear from Mick Mulvaney. The Acting White House Chief of staff and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will potentially others and then you will have Republicans demanding that Joe Biden or his son. Hunter Biden be called to testify about their actions in Ukraine rain. And so you have probably dueling subpoena fights and elongation of the whole trial section of the impeachment process which the president doesn't want and very uncertain outcomes the law of surprises and potentially unser pleasant surprises for both sides. Comes into play so you will have moved from a process is that seemed to be headed toward a certain conclusion to one in which there's at least more uncertainty. I think it's very unlikely that. Any of these scenarios result in the president being convicted hidden removed from office but the twists and turns in the political impact list twists and turns are much harder to predict now. How damaging could Bolton's testimony for the president in this trial if we go down that road where he is called as a witness well I think it's damaging potentially in the sense that it will Would serve if the if the leaks. What he's written? A book are correct to basically confirmed one of the articles of impeachment that the Democrats have put forward which is that. There was undue undue pressure put on Ukraine in the form of withholding military aid to coerce the Ukrainian to investigate the president's political opponents. That is Joe Biden. That would essentially Ashley be confirmed if the leaks are correct. It doesn't however get to the follow on question which Republicans would stress. which is? That's not an impeachable offense. You may disagree with that. We think the president was in within his rights to press for an answer to what was going on in Ukraine during the Obama years as a matter of foreign policy and so what Republicans will say. It's not an impeachable offense. Even if you believe everything John Bolton said so I I think it complicates the political narrative. I doubt that it changes inches. The outcome as I said because Republicans are both convinced there there was less there the meets the eye and that whatever the president did does not amount to a high crime or misdemeanor meaner as required under the constitution for impeachment and conviction Jerry. How do Republicans view John Bolton he has a long history in Washington how are Republicans responding responding to this leak? And how are they viewing Bolton's relationship to president trump. Well that's an interesting question because you have a role reversal in both parties. He's on John Bolton right now. For years and years John Bolton was kind of a a villainous figure in the Democratic Party very conservative goes back to campaigning for Barry Goldwater when he was in his youth served in the Reagan and Bush administrations very hawkish conservative and very much reviled by Democrats now. They're begging for John Bolton to stand up and be a man of principle as we know he is and testify and on the Republican side. You have a similar reversal. I mean John Bolton is conservatives conservative he served in every Republican administration nations since Ronald Reagan. And now he's being attacked by. Republicans is not credible person and so this is kind of the whiplash effect that you see often in the the trump administration when people who were traditional Republican conservatives are not necessarily trusted now and those same kinds of conservatives. Don't necessarily love the trump administration association. So there's a kind of identity crisis on the right to to some extent these days and John Bolton personifies that now in this context in some ways you know one of the ironies. arnie's in this situation is that there are a lot of things that John Bolton has said and written for years that are very trumpian in the way he's described it very much in sync with President and trump. He has said you can't trust the European Union for example and he has said the State Department is a A hotbed of careerist liberals who try to make policy not just execute the president's policy especially when that president is a Republican. Those are the exact things that Donald Trump says about the EU and the State Department bureaucracy. So there is a there's there's a lot of overlap between John Bolton things and what Donald Trump thinks the place where they fell out with each other and the reason for this controversy now is Moscow in Russia Russia where John Bolton is quite the Hawk and therefore wanted to make sure that Ukraine was armed to confront Russia and president trump has a much more benign view of Russia and Vladimir Putin hooton overall and so the irony here is that there's a lot of trump and John Bolton just not on this question of Ukraine Wall Street Journal Executive Washington editor Jerry. seib thank thank you so

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