The Bolton Factor
And the truth Shell make you free and Lord thank you for giving our chief justice another another birthday. Aw man the majority leader is recognized as the chaplains indicated on a Vala happy birthday. I'm sure there's did exactly how you plan to celebrate income. Well thank you very much for those kind wishes and thank you to all the senators for I'm not asking for the as in as pursuant to the provisions of Senate resolution four eighty three from NBC. News this article too two inside impeachment. I'm Steve Keke. Today is Monday January twenty seventh in. Here's what's happening indeed. We're living in what I think can aptly be described as the age of impeachment president. Donald Trump's legal team continued. Its defense today in the Senate impeachment trial but these opening arguments are being overshadowed by a major development when the time supporting ousted. National Security is John Bolton has receipts purporting president trump did in fact direct him to withhold aid to Ukraine and exchange for investigations into the democratic and Joe Biden. There's new pressure this morning to call for National Security Adviser John Bolton to testify. They're stepping up their calls for Bolton to be witnessed number one last week. Republicans were confident. The trial would wrap up quickly now. It's not so clear today. An article too we're asking. How are these allegations by John? Bolton affecting affecting the White House defense and the possibility that witnesses may be called Shannon petty pieces of senior White House reporter for NBC Shannon. Thank you for being part of the show charge. Glad to be here so opening in day it really the second opening day I guess the first one counts as a half day for the for the trump legal defense team on Saturday They had a relatively brief compared into what we've been seeing a set of opening remarks now today a more fulsome Opening argument from the President's legal defense team we heard the prosecution make its case the the trump defense now taking shape. What are the key arguments? They're making well so far. What we've heard from the president's lawyers today is trying to paint a picture of a president who was not trying to use funding to Ukraine for personal political reasons but a president who had other motivations involving the country's entries best interest in heart so this argument that we have heard from Republicans from the president's allies in the past that the president wasn't putting a hold on money to Ukraine craned because of the Biden investigations it was because of corruption and going back to comments that the witnesses that the Democrats have actually cited from the house? Trial have used To to to show that the president did actually have concern about corruption. Ukraine and corruption was actually an issue there. According to Ambassador Volker President Trump demonstrated that he had a very deeply rooted negative view of Ukraine based on past corruption. And that's a reasonable position. According to Ambassador Volker most people who know anything about Ukraine would think that They have tried to make this case that the president couldn't have been putting a hold on AIDS Ukraine unless lesson investigated the Biden's because the president actually did release aid to Ukraine and again going back to words from the Democratic witnesses in the house trial. Where they they said that the aid was eventually released and that there was eventually a meeting with the president on September eleven based on the information collected and and presented to president trump? The president lifted the pause on the security assistance. As Mr Morrison explained our process gave the president president the confidence he needed to approve the release of the security sector assistance. Of course the president's legal team is failing to mention. The fact at that age was only released and that meeting only happened. After reports of the president's alleged pressure on Ukraine came out and a full House investigation began. So we've heard the lawyer get into a bit more detail today a bit more meat and specifics. In the president's case as opposed to Saturday when it was a more are high level what the legal team described as a movie trailer version of their defense. So along these lines we actually have a question that came in from one of our listeners. Owners were always asking folks. Send in your questions. If you've got anything you're wondering about Daniel from Petaluma California. I think by the bay area He wants to know. This is of the arguments put forward by the White House team which is the most compelling from a legal perspective Chain and you have a sense of that well. I'm obviously not a lawyer but I can give you a bit of perspective on that that I've been hearing so on a broad level. There is an argument that even even if the president did put a hold on funding to Ukraine until the investigate the Biden's. There's nothing wrong with that is what the president's lawyers have been trying to argue because the president accident has broad authority. They say under the Constitution to make whatever decisions he wants when it comes to foreign aid and they have pointed to other instances where Obama or or another president. Put a hold on eight. And they've said that politics is always involved and the second one is attacking the overall process arguing. The process was unconstitutional. Regional arguing that. This is all an attempt by the house to invalidate the election and that the American public should decide who the president is not the senators. and May it please this Court of impeachment. I stand before you today. In defense of my fellow Americans who in November number two thousand sixteen elected Donald Trump to serve the people as their president their reasons for that vote. You were as varied as any important decisions are but their collective judgment accepted as legitimate under our constitution his deserving deserving of my respect and yours so Shannon John Bolton the president's former national security advisor He's kind of been hovering over for this. Entire process has been the question of whether he'd be called as a witness in then in the last forty. Eight hours That question was reinforced. I in a dramatic way. What has happened with John Bolton so there were reports that I came out in the New York Times that John Bolton was working on a book and and that a manuscript of the book that had actually submitted to the White House for review said that president trump directly told him that he was freezing aid Ukraine until Ukraine carried out investigations that he wanted to see including an investigation into the Biden's now we have heard that from other witnesses but the White House has has argued that none of those witnesses had firsthand knowledge of this that they were Just assuming this or that this was something they had heard from someone else now now. The White House has until now blocked anyone. Who would have had first-hand knowledge so anyone who had direct conversations with the president from testifying asserting essentially essentially executive privilege now bulletin is no longer an administration official? He is now on the outside. He had said he would be willing to testify if the Senate called him they have not made that decision yet in the Senate trow whether or not witnesses will be called but now we finally have a sense of what John Bolton would say if he was to be called in the Senate trial And that is directly linking from the president's own mouth the funding to Ukraine and these investigations into the violence. So we've got this is news of what's in Bolton's book we've got as you say this unresolved issue of whether the Senate will hear from him whether he'd be called as a witness at all in as is that sort of there in the background you've got the president's lawyer Jaysekulow making this argument today. Not a single witness testified. The president himself said that there was any connection between any investigation and security assistance. A presidential meeting or anything else. So Shannon secular. Oh saying not. A single witness has testified that there was this connection. This connection between the security aide an investigation that statement seculars ability to make it seems to depend on on Bolton. Not Testifying. Is that right. That is right and again. This is something we have heard from the the president's advocates and allies all along discrediting the various witnesses saying that none of them had first hand information. And also discrediting them as these these Deep State and never trumpers that they've used and of course John Bolton is not never trumper He worked in the trump administration. Restauration has been a big advocate of the president. He is A Popular Fox News contributor. He's worked in the in the George W. Bush administration. He has a lot of credibility with conservatives He is someone who has a lot of credibility with a lot of Republican senators. So yes certainly. His testimony poses the risk of undercutting a lot of what we have heard from the president's lawyers in the past two days it's up for a as I said a moment ago. These these two points that even if the president did tie the Ukraine to investigations. It doesn't matter. Presents are allowed to do that And this whole process is unconstitutional. And it's an attempt to overthrow the voters and those I think are really the the last two key arguments they could go back to. If Bolton does indeed say what we reportedly have that he has said in his book into what. What's the president saying? What are folks around the president saying a about Bolton in about what again what's reported to be in this book so the president has denied that he ever said this to Bolton He called it false He insinuated that Bolton someone just trying to sell books no matter script but I can tell you nothing was ever said to John but I have not. I guess he's writing a book. I have not seen as far as inside the White House. So are reporting indicates that the president's legal team is prepared to make an argument of executive privilege Should had the Senate called Bolton to testify. That's something that's been a likely option that they've had all along that they could try and block this testimony by executive privilege and it's looking increasingly likely though today that they're going to have to make that argument and of course if they do A certain claim of executive privilege the expectation is that then that is going to go to the courts awards. And it's going to go all the way up to the Supreme Court to decide and whether you can use executive privilege in an impeachment hearing is sort of untested waters it came up in the Nixon impeachment hearing but but that involved tapes involved a criminal investigation and this actually evolved testimony in an actual Senate trial. So it's pretty unclear. What exactly of course would do in this scenario? She and we're going to go quick. 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NBC set up your free product door and get your free guide today at net sweet dot com slash NBC net sweet dot com slash NBC. HIVER wants Nicole Wallace deadline. Whitehouse on. MSNBC did you know you can and listened to deadline and all your favorite MSNBC shows as podcast. You can catch up on Morning Joe all in with Chris Hayes the last word with Lawrence O'Donnell Casey DC AC and more anytime on the go search for your favorite MSNBC shows wherever you're listening to this podcast and subscribe for free and thanks for listening so speaking of this this news Shan in the reporting about what is in John Bolton's book. It raises the question. If this is even going to be part of the Senate trial is John Bolton GonNa be partisan at trial willoughby witnesses. Will he be called if there are witnesses. We've talked about this a lot on here for Democrats To get witnesses witnesses into this trial to get a Bolton or somebody else. Democrats need to stand together in the Senate and they need four Republicans to break over and join them on those votes. We've been going through it and it's been been hard to see exactly which for that might be but there is the question now whether this Bolton News Might Jarrah few loose a few critical Republican votes lose for Democrats. Are you seeing any signs that might be in the works here. Yes definitely the issue of witnesses specifically John Bolton as a witness seems much more likely today than it did on Friday and you know I know there has been talk of witnesses all along as you mentioned but there's definitely been some senators who've been leaning in the direction of witnesses and we got a better sense of what they're thinking is on that again. Today Susan Collins came out reporting on John unfolds in string and the case for witnesses and has prompted a number earth stations. We heard Romney come out saying he wants to hear from John Bolton essentially a story that came out yesterday it's it's increasingly apparent that it would be important to hear from John Bolton I of course make a final decision on witnesses. After we've heard from Natalie the prosecution but also the defense but I think at this stage. It's pretty fair to say that John Bolton has a relevant testimony to provide to those of us who are sitting in impartial just a couple of others senators hitters. We've heard weigh in Lisa Murkowski All at another name out there that we're watching Lamar Alexander which As of now I don't believe he spoke out on this but he's another one who could defect so it definitely seems. The momentum is starting to really head in that direction and the John. Bolton News is certainly pushed a lot of senators in that way and is is gonNA put pressure on them politically because you see news reports. If you're a voter out there about what Bolton says in his book and what you're reading in The New York Times or seen on NBC. See News will. You're going to want to hear that right out of his mouth and there's going to be this question of well. Why not? Why not let him testify that I think a lot of these moderate senators in the Middle Arkan have to answer answer that question from their constituents? That's interesting though. I do wonder if that sets up. The potential for friction between trump and and some of these Republicans. Maybe even Mitch McConnell I if it were to come to what you're describing there just in that We've seen this. President have no hesitation to go after his own party if he thinks they are wrong. Him and I imagine he's not eager to have John Bolton be a part of this If they were to cast a vote that sort of opens the door to that. I wonder if there'd be awesome We'd see some division in the Republican side. Well the White House is hoping that if the door to witnesses does get opened with John Bolton that they will argue that they should be able to call their own witnesses. And that that's when you get into a hunter Biden situation or a situation where they can then call their own witnesses that they hope will exonerate all right the president now. There's no guarantee that necessarily going to happen because the senators are the ones who get to decide but it yes it could be a real moment where you have to see some real daylight between the president and the Senate but again at the end of the day the the White House does feel like they will be able to defend themselves and that's still at the end of this process. The president will be acquitted. They will head injury election and they will be able to run on a whole myriad of other issues outside outside of impeachment and get the president reelected that way. What would witnesses due to the timeline of this trial I I mean I've heard suggestions that without witnesses? This could wrap up really fast. I have even heard people suggest the end of this week without witnesses but but if there were a vote to have witnesses how long would that extend trial for. Well that is the question. Every reporter order in Washington wants to know and we were all like doing the math on our phones as weekend realizing this could be done by Friday or Saturday potentially Is So if there is a a John Bolton Subpoena and the White House asserts executive privilege it goes to the courts and that could really take weeks even an expedited process process and while that waits in the courts. I don't know exactly what happens. I'm assuming the trial just gets put on hold and everyone in. The Senate goes back to their regularly scheduled programing programming but yes there is definitely potential with witnesses that this trial could still be overhanging. The president during his State of the Union on February fourth. It it could still be hanging out there. During the primaries during the New Hampshire primaries during South Carolina during these key election primaries that are going on for the Democrats. So just sort out of uncharted territory. And we're really just taking it. I think here one day at a time Iran. Sometimes one hour at a time waiting to see what's going to happen next. Pretty big pivot point coming up then either. This thing wraps up quickly or it goes on for a while. We'll find out looks like later this week. Shannon petty piece senior White House reporter for NBC. Thanks so much for joining honest. Thank you the president's legal team is planning on continuing their opening arguments tomorrow article. Oh to inside. Impeachment is produced by Isabel Angel. Max Jacobs Claire. Tie Aaron Dolton Preachy Verizon Alison Bailey. Adam the BOA and Barbara Rab. 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