The former national security adviser’s account threatened to derail Republican hopes of bringing President Trump’s impeachment trial to a quick close with his acquittal.
By Michael D. Shear and Nicholas Fandos
WASHINGTON — The White House and Senate Republican leaders struggled on Monday to salvage their plans for a quick acquittal of President Trump after a new account by his former national security adviser John R. Bolton corroborated a central piece of the impeachment case against him.
The newly disclosed revelations by Mr. Bolton, whose forthcoming book details how Mr. Trump conditioned military aid for Ukraine on the country’s willingness to furnish information on his political rivals, angered key Republicans and reinvigorated a bid to call witnesses. Such a move would prolong the trial and pose new dangers for the president.
A handful of Republicans appeared to be moving closer to joining Democrats in a vote to subpoena Mr. Bolton, even as their leaders insisted that doing so would only delay his inevitable acquittal.
“I think it’s increasingly likely that other Republicans will join those of us who think we should hear from John Bolton,” Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, told reporters. He later told Republican colleagues at a closed-door lunch that calling witnesses would be a wise choice politically and substantively, according to people familiar with the discussions.
As they opened the second day of their defense, Mr. Trump’s lawyers largely ignored the revelations from Mr. Bolton, reported on Sunday by The New York Times, that bolstered the abuse of power case made by the House Democratic prosecutors.
Instead, the White House team is doubling down on a defense that is directly contradicted by the account in Mr. Bolton’s book, due out in March. Mr. Trump’s lawyers told senators that no evidence existed tying the president’s decision to withhold security aid from Ukraine to his insistence on the investigations. They say the investigations were requested out of a concern for corruption in Ukraine.
“Anyone who spoke with the president said that the president made clear that there was no linkage between security assistance and investigations,” said Michael Purpura, the deputy White House counsel.
Mr. Trump’s legal team also sought to turn the Democrats’ accusations on their head.
They defended and played down the role of Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer who was at the center of Mr. Trump’s Ukraine pressure campaign, calling him a “shiny object” Democrats were brandishing to distract from a weak case. They sought to raise doubts about former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter Biden, suggesting they were corrupt.
Source New York Times.