A retweet from President Donald Trump on Monday evening sent out a signal that he may try to block his former National Security Advisor John Bolton from testifying during a Senate impeachment trial — a move that he may have a hard time accomplishing successfully.
Per prior reporting from HillReporter.com, Bolton announced earlier on Monday that he was prepared and willing to testify before the Senate during the impeachment trial, if he was subpoenaed to do so. Bolton previously refused to testify during the House impeachment inquiry.
But a tweet from Byron York, a Washington Examiner reporter, explaining his interpretation of executive privilege, seemed to imply that the Trump administration could stop Bolton from speaking out, even if he was subpoenaed.
“The White House can assert executive privilege. It’s not Bolton’s privilege; it’s the president’s,” York wrote to a follower of his. “If executive privilege covers anything, it is a talk between president and top adviser on matters of foreign policy.”
The tweet was retweeted from the president’s Twitter account at 9:54 p.m. Eastern Time.
The retweet from Trump seems to be an endorsement of the idea that the president could assert executive privilege against Bolton’s possible testimony. However, some legal experts dispute this notion.
CNN’s Jeffrey Toobin, speaking on “Anderson Cooper 360,” suggested that blocking Bolton’s testimony would be very difficult from a legal perspective. “If Bolton Wanted to testify, I think the White House would have a very hard time stopping that,” he said.
Appearing on the program with him was former Nixon administration member John Dean, whose own testimony helped demonstrate that Nixon had engaged in nefarious actions as president. Dean recalled his own experiences, Raw Story reported, and said that Bolton’s testimony would be almost impossible to block, given the actions he took to speak with lawyers while he was still with the Trump White House.
When he testified before Congress, Dean said, he was “prepared to say that the crime-fraud exception would preclude any kind of privilege that they could claim,” he said. “And I think there’s a parallel, in this situation” with Bolton.
“I think Bolton clearly extracted himself and denied being involved in any conspiracy, and that’s the most likely offense that was involved here,” Dean added. “He also reported the activity to the White House counsel, which is exactly what you should do. They didn’t take any action, but he did. So I think he is exactly a very powerful, potential witness.”