Trump Suggests He Will Use Executive Privilege to Block Bolton Impeachment Testimony

January 10, 2020 Updated: January 10, 2020
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President Donald Trump said he will use executive privilege to prevent former White House aide John Bolton from testifying in the forthcoming Senate impeachment trial.

When asked by Fox News host Laura Ingraham if he would invoke executive privilege to block Bolton from testifying, Trump said that “I think you have to for the sake of the office,” referring to the presidency.

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

Trump said on Thursday he didn’t back a plan to stop Bolton from testifying, telling reporters, “I don’t stop it.”

Bolton said on Monday he would be willing to testify if he is subpoenaed during the Senate trial, which some Democrats have seized on as a sign that witnesses need to be called during the proceedings. Democrats have delayed sending the articles of impeachment to the Senate and some have argued that Bolton, White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, and others should testify.

In a statement on Monday, Bolton wrote: “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. I have concluded that, if the Senate issues a subpoena for my testimony, I am prepared to testify.” Bolton left the Trump administration last year.

john bolton
Then-White House National Security Advisor John Bolton talks to reporters outside of the White House in Washington on April 30, 2019. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the House will prepare to send articles of impeachment next week after her caucus and Senate Democrats failed to get any concessions from Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), in the upper chamber.

McConnell publicly expressed that he wants to use the model established during the 1999 impeachment trial of former President Bill Clinton, opting to vote on potentially calling up witnesses at a future date. The majority leader also backed a bill introduced by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) that would allow the Senate to change its rules on impeachment unless the House transmits the articles within 25 days of voting to impeach Trump.

Pelosi announced Friday that she would send the articles of impeachment to the Senate.

“I have asked Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler to be prepared to bring to the Floor next week a resolution to appoint managers and transmit articles of impeachment to the Senate,” Pelosi said in a letter to House Democrats.

On Thursday, several GOP senators said McConnell is aiming to start the trial next week.