Now America knows why the White House was so anxious to prevent former national security adviser John Bolton from testifying in the impeachment proceedings: In the draft of an upcoming book, Bolton reportedly claims that President Donald Trump personally demanded that aid to Ukraine be suspended until that country investigated his political rival, Joe Biden.
Trump, of course, claims Bolton is lying. There's a simple way to determine the truth: Bolton is willing to testify under oath; Trump isn't, and has ordered his underlings not to. Bolton no longer answers to the president. Let him testify.
With this crucial new revelation, any senators who fail to demand Bolton's testimony should be viewed as willing accomplices to obstruction of Congress — already one of the two impeachment articles against Trump. Missouri Sens. Roy Blunt and Josh Hawley must hear Bolton's side of the story before casting their votes in Trump's trial.
Bolton, a former U.N. ambassador, served as Trump's national security adviser from early 2018 until his contentious exit last fall. A long-time foreign policy hawk, Bolton has made some bad calls. But he apparently knows a "drug deal" when he sees one, as witnesses say he did when Trump tried to use military aid as a lever to force Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Biden.
Bolton's comment was understood to mean not a literal drug deal but engagement in a blatantly illegal transaction.
That hazy metaphor was clarified over the weekend, with the revelation that a draft of a book by Bolton asserts Trump personally told him that he wanted to continue freezing $391 million in military aid to Ukraine until he got the Biden investigation Trump sought.
To understand how important this assertion is, consider Trump's various defenses in the impeachment proceedings. He and his surrogates have strenuously claimed that there is no evidence of a "quid pro quo" between the Ukraine aid suspension and the requested investigation. They maintain that Trump himself didn't personally direct any such scheme and that the only testimony to the contrary is from second-hand sources. Bolton's allegation, if true, knocks all that down. He is a direct witness to what happened.
Is it true? The best way for Blunt, Hawley and other senators to make a proper, informed evaluation is to call Bolton to testify under oath and weigh it against the White House's frantic efforts to prevent it.
Lying to the public is one thing (a thing Trump has done more than 16,000 times, according to The Washington Post's ongoing count), but lying under oath in a Senate trial creates a personal legal hazard that would give anyone pause.
Having crowed from the start that the entire case against Trump rests on hearsay, Senate Republicans would be hard-pressed to explain why they wouldn't demand Bolton's first-hand testimony — unless, of course, they don't want America to know what really happened. America, and history, are watching.
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