The claim by John Bolton in his upcoming book that President Trump told him he wanted to withhold aide to Ukraine in exchange for an investigation into the Bidens is emboldening Senate moderates already inclined to demand witnesses.
It’s getting hard for me to see how they vote on this thing without calling at least a few witnesses. It’s also hard to see how they convict Trump even if they do, since even most Republicans probably believe Trump sought a “quid pro quo” with Ukraine but do not think it rises to the level an impeachable offense. Especially with Election Day just over nine months away.
According to The Hill:
Former national security adviser John Bolton’s claim in an unpublished manuscript that President Trump told him he wanted to hold military assistance to Ukraine to get officials there to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden has sharpened a rift within the Senate GOP over trial strategy.
Two key moderates, Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), say Bolton’s claim strengthens their calls for the Senate to hear from witnesses at President Trump’s impeachment trial.
Yet GOP leaders and other rank-and-file Republican senators are questioning Bolton’s motivations and dismissing the reported claims of his book draft as adding little to the case against the president.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), at a Republican conference lunch meeting Monday, urged his colleagues to hold off on making a quick judgment on the need for witnesses in the wake of news reports on Bolton’s claims.
Romney told reporters Monday morning “it’s increasingly likely that other Republicans will join those of us who think we should hear from John Bolton.”