john bolton 700x420 1
john bolton 700x420 1

By Zachary Stieber

Former National Security Adviser John Bolton testifying in the Senate impeachment trial would be a national security issue, President Donald Trump said on Jan. 22.

Speaking to reporters in Davos, Trump said that Bolton “knows what I think about leaders.”

“What happens if he reveals what I think about a certain leader and it’s not very positive and then I have to deal on behalf of the country? It’s going to be very hard. It’s going to make the job very hard,” Trump said.

“He knows other things. And I don’t know if we left on the best of terms. I would say probably not, you know. So you don’t like people testifying when they didn’t leave on good terms. And that was due to me, not due to him.”

Trump said the reasons he doesn’t want Bolton to testify involve national security and executive privilege.

“I’ve always gotten along with John Bolton. He didn’t get along with other people,” Trump added. “But when he knows my thoughts on certain people and other governments and we’re talking about massive trade deals and war and peace and all these different things that we talk about, that’s really a very important national security problem.”

President Donald Trump talks during a bilateral meeting with Iraqi President Barham Salih (not pictured) at the 50th World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, January 22, 2020. (Jonathan Ernst/President Donald Trump talks during a bilateral meeting with Iraqi President Barham Salih (not pictured) at the 50th World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, on Jan. 22, 2020. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

The Senate opened the impeachment trial against Trump this week in Washington as the president attended the World Economic Forum in Switzerland. After a series of proposed amendments to subpoena documents and witnesses—including Bolton—were voted down by the Republican majority, the body approved a resolution allowing the House to submit evidence but pushing back the matter of documents and witnesses until later in the trial.

One proposed amendment, introduced by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), would have subpoenaed Bolton to testify. The amendment said Bolton was involved in meetings at the White House about the U.S. relationship with Ukraine and that he should be called to testify on his knowledge of events pertaining to the two impeachment articles, obstruction of Congress and abuse of office.

“Witnesses with direct knowledge or involvement should be heard,” House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the lead House impeachment manager, told senators during Tuesday’s hearing. “That includes the president’s acting Chief of Staff and Mick Mulvaney, his former national security adviser, John Bolton, who has publicly offered to testify.” Robert Blair, an adviser to Mulvaney, and Michael Duffey, a senior official at the White House of Office of Management and Budget, also have relevant testimony, Schiff said, adding: “Why not hear it?”

The House didn’t issue a subpoena for Bolton, who was fired in September during the House impeachment inquiry. Bolton declined to appear to testify without a subpoena in November 2019.

Democrats said they were rushing to impeach Trump because he represents a danger to the country, but were criticized by Republicans for withholding the impeachment articles from the Senate for about three weeks after impeaching Trump on Dec. 18, 2019, delaying the start of the Senate trial.

President Donald Trump is flanked by National Security Advisor John Bolton as he speaks in Washington in 2018. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Democrats now say they want Bolton, Mulvaney, and two others to testify in the trial. Republicans have rejected calls for witnesses, saying they’ll hear from both sides before deciding whether any are needed.

“The way the Senate decides to handle mid-trial questions such as witnesses could have institutional consequences that go far beyond this trial and this presidency. We are not going to rush into these questions without even hearing opening arguments,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said from the Senate floor on Tuesday.

Bolton said earlier this month that he was “prepared to testify” if called in the Senate trial. His statement came after a federal judge declined to rule on whether a former Bolton aide, Charles Kupperman, should be compelled to testify after House Democrats withdrew a subpoena for his testimony.

Trump said this month that he’d invoke executive privilege to block Bolton from testifying.

“No problem other than one thing,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News. “You can’t be in the White House as president—future, I’m talking about future, any future presidents—and have a security adviser, anybody having to do with security, and legal and other things” testify.

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