Trump’s defense team, including familiar face Ken Starr (whining about “weaponization” of impeachment!), begins its second day of oral arguments today. It does so in the wake of the news that former Trump national security advisor John Bolton states in his forthcoming book that Trump held up aid to Ukraine to try to get officials there to announce investigations of his political rivals. It’s another bit of confirmation of what we already know, but it theoretically puts more pressure on Republicans resistant to witnesses. A vote on whether to subpoena Bolton and others to testify, as well whether to seek and introduce additional evidence, will take place later this week.
You can watch a livestream of today’s proceedings here.
Given that the White House has had the manuscript since late December to review it for security issues, now we know even more clearly why the White House has been so resistant to Bolton testifying. It also raises the question of whether his defense team may have been briefed on its contents, in which case they’ve been lying to the Senate during the trial.
Sen. Mitt Romney and Sen. Susan Collins have given statements that suggest they’ll vote to hear testimony from Bolton, with a other GOP senators wobbly on the matter.
“I think it’s increasingly likely that other Republicans will join those of us who think we should hear from John Bolton,” Romney told reporters. “I’ve spoken with others who’ve opined upon this as well.”
Here’s Collins’ statement:
My statement on Bolton developments. pic.twitter.com/3M59J7suts
— Sen. Susan Collins (@SenatorCollins) January 27, 2020
I’ll believe it when I see it, but perhaps the dam is a bit closer to breaking on the witness question. The president’s defense team is now preparing for the possibility of witnesses, ABC reports.
At least they have éminence greasy Ken Starr, who opened today’s arguments by opining, “Like war, impeachment is hell, or at least presidential impeachment is hell.” Well then.