John Bolton Says He Would Comply With Senate Subpoena to Testify in Impeachment Trial

The big question is whether Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will allow any witnesses at all.


Former National Security Advisor John Bolton said today that he will comply with a subpoena if he's ordered to testify at the Senate's impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.

The possibility of Bolton's testimony had been up in the air. The White House has been trying to keep witnesses who worked for Trump from testifying to Congress in the matter, which centers around Trump's temporary withholding of aid to Ukraine to get the country to investigate rival presidential candidate Joe Biden's son.

The conflict ended up in the courts, as the Trump administration tried to stop former Bolton aide Charles Kupperman from complying with a House subpoena. Kupperman was essentially receiving contradictory orders and wanted a federal judge to tell him which branch of the government took precedence. But then the House withdrew its subpoena and impeached Trump anyway. So at the end of December a judge ruled the case moot, leaving it unresolved whether the administration has the authority to prevent former staffers from complying with congressional subpoenas and whether Congress would have the authority to punish those who do as the White House ordered.

Bolton is in the same position: Both sides have been making potentially contradictory demands. With the Kupperman case unresolved, it was unclear what would happen if the Senate called Bolton in.

Bolton's statement says:

The House has concluded its Constitutional responsibility by adopting Articles of Impeachment related to the Ukraine matter. It now falls to the Senate to fulfill its Constitutional obligation to try impeachments, and it does not appear possible that a final judicial resolution of the still-unanswered Constitutional questions can be obtained before the Senate acts.

Accordingly, 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 already indicated that he would be open to testifying if the judge had ruled in the House's favor in the Kupperman conflict. Bolton's lawyer, in correspondence with the House's general counsel, flat out told them that Bolton was involved in many of the meetings and conversations that are at the heart of the investigation. Bolton's testimony could be harmful to Trump, given the conversations he was privy to, leading my colleague Jacob Sullum to speculate that the Senate's Republican leadership might not actually want to hear from him.

Bolton's public announcement comes right on the heels of Trump's decision to get aggressive with Iran, a move that Bolton heartily supports. You shouldn't assume that this announcement is an indicator of how Bolton feels about the administration's behavior. Though House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D–Calif.) thinks that Bolton's announcement is a significant game-changer:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R–Ky.) does not answer to the House, and Bolton's willingness to testify doesn't matter if Republicans follow Trump's wishes and decide not to call new witnesses. So the next fight may be over whether Trump and McConnell can keep Republican senators in line in a vote establishing the rules for the process.

NEXT: Who Poses the Greater Threat to Peace: An Impetuous President or 'Experienced Advisers' Who Are Disastrously Wrong?

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  1. I thought Impeachment got canceled at midseason.

    1. Yeah, sitting on the articles and not transmitting until the elections are underway seems like a bold move. Maybe they figure if they wait until he’s out of office they can put him in Gitmo instead?

    2. “The big question is whether Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will allow any witnesses at all.”

      The bigger question is whether or not Pelosi will get around to sending articles of impeachment.

    3. Reason should be reiterating that,instead of dreaming up what Bolton might have wrote.

  2. No the big question is how you think this isn’t a dead issue already.

    You lost. It’s over. This is just you twitching because your brain hasn’t figured it out yet.

    1. The Senate will undoubtedly rule in Trump’s favor. That does NOT mean this is over! They still have to vote on the matter!

      The fact that Trump’s Buttplugs are desperate to cancel the Senate half of the proceedings, despite the fact that the Senate will rule in his favor, is telling. They’re afraid of the sunlight.

      1. “The fact that Trump’s Buttplugs are desperate to cancel the Senate half of the proceedings…”

        Huh? The Senate has wanted to hold the impeachment trial for awhile now. The House refuses to officially send over the Articles and Managers. That’s why this is taking so long.

        Otherwise, they could hold the trial, get everyone’s vote on the record, and move on. Delay makes the Dems look bad, as it takes that much longer to get this entire debacle out of the memory of the electorate. Unless you think the Democrats want to run on the impeachment as a major issue. That’ll be fun if Biden becomes the nominee.

        Good luck finding 67 Yes votes. There aren’t that many Murkowskis or Romneys in the Senate. Hell, there’ll probably be a few Democrat defectors in states that Trump won in 2016.

        1. The only people that don’t want the Senate hearing the case would appear to be the Democrats who have thus far failed to send along the articles for deliberation. In fact, last I heard Republicans were complaining that it was taking so long to send them along for a hearing.

        2. If only all of them had tumors that were willing to vote like McCain’s was.

  3. Poor Hackford.

    Trump wont be removed from office and he will be reelected in 2020.

    1. LOL — “Reelected.”

      Meanwhile we in the reality-based community know this is Drumpf’s legacy:

      Terrible economy.
      Concentration camps with kids in cages.
      Dramatic nationwide rise in hate crimes.
      Two biggest scandals in world history, #TrumpRussia and #TrumpUkraine.
      Literally started World War 3 to distract from impeachment.

      Not even Russian hacking will help him this time.


      1. “Dramatic Nationwide rise in hate crimes.”
        I’d be alright with one more.

    2. And the Demonrats will have to find another way to delay the draining of the swamp.

  4. I think this all starts with the House transmitting the articles of impeachment to the Senate. Then a trial can begin. Once the House Managers present their case, and the POTUS team presents Trump’s case….the Senate can decide whether or not they need to hear from witnesses. I have no problem with the Senate deciding to call (or electing not to call) John Bolton as a witness. They have sole power to try the case. They decide.

    I expect the House to make their case to the Senate, immediately. Didn’t the Speaker of the House state our national security was literally at stake. I am amazed the Congress went on recess, given the gravity of it all. That is what we were told.

  5. We’ve got him now!

    The Senate cannot be complicit in the President’s cover-up.

    The Senate cannot do anything as you have not produced the impeachment articles.

  6. If Bolton does testify he should do it dressed as Yosemite Sam.

  7. John Bolton is an ass, has been and always will be. If he wants to talk let him but he has to decide. I sick of this I will talk but you have to force me. He will be happy to talk when he is on a book tour and getting money for it. He characters himself as a super patriot but doesn’t act like one. I don’t care if his testimony supports President Trump or if it doesn’t. He should testify because it is the right thing to do. But he can’t see that because he is full of himself.

  8. The House Impeachment is a joke and should be treated as such.

  9. Maybe I’m just cynical, but I feel that if Bolton actually had anything that would be damaging to Trump he would have already leaked it.

  10. This just in: US states they are leaving Iraq.

    Maybe this time, we can make that permanent. let them stew in their own juices.

    1. Link? Because this is great news if true.

      1. It’s fucking clownshoes from the Trump Administration. Now, per this reporter from McClatchy, the news the US was leaving Iraq was a preliminary memo.

        This is the sort of thing we laughed at the Obama Administration the last years for doing. Can someone there get in front of a camera and mike and tell the press pool what the DoD is actually going to do?

        1. More from Tara Copp:

          “It was a mistake,” [Milley] said. Milley said it was a draft, poorly worded, and had not been signed. It was being worked w/ Iraqis. Bottom Line: US troops ARE NOT leaving, he said.”

          Something this bumbling, I wonder if it was RUMINT deliberately set out to see who’d run to the press with it?

          1. “Something this bumbling, I wonder if it was RUMINT deliberately set out to see who’d run to the press with it?”

            Because if there’s anything clingers in general and the Trump administration in particular are known for, it’s top-notch strategery!

  11. So what if he complies with the subpoena? He can do that and still invoke the 5A.

  12. I’m guessing Bolton’s testimony will go something like this:

    So, I was there in the room with the President. And he’s on the phone with the Ukrainian president. And he’s asking about whether Biden was a crook. I started to get interested. I mean, if it turns out he was, then we’d have a dead solid reason to launch a war against the Ukraine. I mean, sure, I wanted to launch a war against Russia. But, hell, the Ukraine would make a good enough consolation prize. And, if we went to war against the Ukraine, hot damn! That would certainly push Russia into a war with us. It’d be a twofer! And then what does that bastard Trump do? He doesn’t even threaten them with war! I mean what kind of pussy is he? Talk about a case of war blue balls. And then, just a couple of months after I’m out of the picture what does he do? He launches a potentially war-inducing drone strike. And with me on the sideline? Where the hell am I supposed to get my fix of war if Trump is not letting me in on the warring. I’m telling you, the guy is a total warboner tease. He should be impeached just for that.

    1. Nicely done!

      Anyway, I don’t see how this is news?
      Didn’t Bolton say the exact same thing a month or two ago?

  13. It’s probably a bad sign that a person intending to comply with a congressional subpoena is news.

  14. If the senate decides to call witnesses you can bet the list won’t be limited to Nancy’s favorites. It will include Eric the whistleblower, Hunter Biden, a former Ukrainian prosecutor, maybe even Joe Biden among others. All have information directly related to the issue at hand.

  15. Yawn… Pelosi’s only out is to wait till October to hand over the documendacity in hopes that the resulting faeces-funnel will generate enough chaff to confuse non-LP voters. I vote against Republicans, but this Hail Mary impeachment gambit is as patently stupid as global warmunism or anarcho-collectivism cross-dressing as laissez-faire. Rotsa ruck making it stick–especially given the betting odds now that bookies no longer watch CNN.

    1. “Global warmunism” is fucking great!

  16. Why wouldn’t he testify in the Senate? What are people hoping for? Even if he were to completely confirm what the Democrats allege, it would still not be impeachable. Of course, in reality, he’s simply going to say what the parade of war mongers have said before: he disagreed with the president’s decision, but that he knows of no illegal conduct or intent.

    1. Agreed, but it would be interesting to see his spin on events. It still isn’t going to happen. While the Democrats were able to control the proceedings in the House, there trying to control the proceeding in the Senate will never work.

  17. Horse. Dead. Stop beating.

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