Trump’s Legal Team Doesn’t Think John Bolton Should Testify in Impeachment Trial

January 29, 2020 Updated: January 29, 2020

President Donald Trump’s legal team said they don’t think John Bolton, the former national security adviser, should testify during the Senate impeachment trial.

“The fact is that it’s not the job of the Senate to start doing an investigation now that the House didn’t pursue. And the House never even attempted to subpoena John Bolton. So we don’t think that there’s a basis for the Senate going to get testimony at this point,” a source on the legal team told reporters in a phone call on Jan. 28.

“The job of the House is to do a proper investigation in something that is this serious before going to the Senate. And we don’t think that it’s the proper role of the Senate to start opening things up, to be addressing new developments on the fly in the middle of a trial.”

The legal team isn’t concerned about information Bolton would bring forward because they know Trump hasn’t done anything wrong, the source said.

A source on the team highlighted that there were 17 witnesses called during the House impeachment inquiry and how House Democrats subpoenaed Charles Kupperman, a former deputy to Bolton. When Kupperman filed a lawsuit asking a judge whether he should obey the subpoena or the White House, which requested that he not testify, House Democrats withdrew the subpoena.

“So they were not attempting to really pursue these witnesses before. It’s not the time now to have the Senate go at it,” the source said.

Trump’s legal team also said that House impeachment managers have said they had a strong case with overwhelming evidence and questioned why additional witnesses would be needed if that was true.

White House counsel Pat Cipollone speaks
White House counsel Pat Cipollone speaks during impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 25, 2020. (Senate Television via Getty Images)

No one on the legal team has seen Bolton’s manuscript, which was submitted to the National Security Council for pre-publication review before details were leaked to the press. A source on the team declined to say whether Trump or his team were briefed on the manuscript.

Calls for Bolton to testify intensified this week after details of his upcoming book, which is slated for a March release, leaked to media outlets. None of the reports quoted any passages from the book.

Democrats said the details bolstered the need for Bolton to testify about what he knows about allegations made against Trump, including that the president allegedly abused his office in asking Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to “look into” corruption allegations against Hunter Biden and 2020 contender Joe Biden.

Bolton’s claims “essentially confirm the president committed the offenses charged in the first article of impeachment,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said at a press conference on Monday. “We have a witness with first-hand evidence of the president’s actions for which he is on trial. He is ready and willing to testify. How can Senate Republicans not vote to call that witness and request his documents?”

Trump has said he doesn’t want Bolton to testify.

“Why didn’t John Bolton complain about this ‘nonsense’ a long time ago, when he was very publicly terminated. He said, not that it matters, NOTHING!” he said in one statement on Twitter.

“Remember Republicans, the Democrats already had 17 witnesses, we were given NONE! Witnesses are up to the House, not up to the Senate. Don’t let the Dems play you!” he said in another.

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