The American people and Republican senators have largely disagreed, up until this moment, on the need for more witnesses during the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump — but a recent report detailing former National Security Advisor John Bolton’s words with Trump in August may cause at least a few GOP lawmakers to step away from resisting those calls for much longer.
Bolton reportedly wrote in an upcoming book of his that Trump told him the hold on Ukraine military aid money was indeed put in place in order to compel Kyiv to investigate Joe Biden, a move that would benefit the president in a political way.
The allegation that Trump did so is the crux of the first article of impeachment against him, that he abused his powers to gain personally and politically from them in the 2020 presidential race.
More than 7-in-10 Americans want Bolton and other possible witnesses to testify in the Senate impeachment trial, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll, but up until these revelations, it wasn’t clear whether moderate Republican senators would join with Democrats in order to make that happen. Now, it seems all but inevitable to come about.
Two such senators have already expressed a need to hear more from Bolton on the Senate floor. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) explained his desire to hear the former National Security Advisor’s version of events while speaking to reporters on Monday, Fox News reported.
“I think it’s important to hear from John Bolton for us to make an impartial judgment,” Romney said.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) echoed his thoughts in a statement she shared on Twitter:
“The reports about John Bolton’s book strengthen the case for witnesses and have prompted a number of conversations among my colleagues.”
At least four Republicans senators are needed to vote for impeachment witnesses in the Senate trial, and with two already there (or seemingly there), it seems like a given that Bolton (and possibly others) will be testifying.
According to a report from ABC News’ Senior Congressional Correspondent Mary Bruce, that’s causing many Republican lawmakers to reluctantly recognize the reality of the situation.
“Many Republicans, even many of the president’s top defenders I have talked to, seem resigned to the fact that it seems increasingly likely that we will be hearing from John Bolton, and possibly other witnesses as well,” Bruce said.
.@marykbruce: "Even many of the president's top defenders that I have talked to seemed resigned to the fact that it seems increasingly likely that we will be hearing from John Bolton, and possibly other witnesses." https://t.co/bvAUwIySc2 pic.twitter.com/UogbEhMIbZ
— ABC News (@ABC) January 27, 2020
That doesn’t mean some aren’t trying. A number of Republican senators, as American Independent has reported, are trying to brush off the recent Bolton revelations as inconsequential. Details from Bolton’s book “really doesn’t change anything,” said Sen. Mike Braun, a Republican from Indiana.
However, Bruce said, even while Trump’s defenders in the House are insisting “that this does not change the facts…[and] are trying to downplay these allegations from John Bolton, what cannot be disputed is that this has definitely changed the calculus here on Capitol Hill.”
Indeed, even one of Trump’s most ardent supporters, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), recognized that the Bolton bombshell had to be dealt with in some way. Although he didn’t quite come out in favor of Bolton testifying, Graham did say he wanted to see the manuscript of the former National Security Advisor’s forthcoming book, at the very least, Politico reported.
“Let’s see what’s in the manuscript, let’s see if it’s relevant, and if it is, I’ll make a decision about Bolton,” he added.