The impeachment trial of President Donald Trump was thrown for a loop over the weekend when excerpts from former national security adviser John Bolton’s upcoming book were leaked by The New York Times.
According to reports, moderate Republicans have indicated to party leadership behind-the-scenes that they’re uncomfortable with the plans of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-K.Y.
Led by Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, some senators have hinted that they could soon break ranks with the White House.
Romney said it is “increasingly likely” that other Republicans will join him in a call to compel Bolton to testify in the Senate impeachment trial after claims from his forthcoming book undercut a key defense argument.
Bolton reportedly wrote that Trump told him he wanted to withhold hundreds of millions of dollars in security aid from Ukraine until it helped him with investigations into his Democratic rival Joe Biden.
Romney says Bolton “has relevant testimony” and it is “increasingly apparent it is important to hear” from him.
He’s not alone.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-A.K., said she’s “curious” what Bolton might say if he was called as a witness.
Sen. Susan Collins, R-M.E., says reports about Bolton’s book “strengthen the case for witnesses” and have promoted “a number of conversations among my colleagues.”
In a statement she tweeted, Collins said —
My statement on Bolton developments. pic.twitter.com/3M59J7suts
— Sen. Susan Collins (@SenatorCollins) January 27, 2020
Despite the rumblings, most Republicans remained firm in their defense of Trump.
“Really, there’s nothing new here,” said Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, the No. 3 Republican. He dismissed the new information as an “effort to sell books.”
Trump’s legal team also dismissed the allegations by Bolton.
“We deal with transcript evidence, we deal with publicly available information,” Jay Sekulow said during a press conference on Capitol Hill. “We do not deal with speculation, allegations that are not based on evidentiary standards at all.”
Senators are expected to take a key vote later this week on whether to consider witnesses in the trial.
Eventual acquittal is likely in a Senate where a two-thirds majority vote would be needed for conviction. Still, the White House sees its Senate presentation this week as an opportunity to counter the allegations, defend the powers of the presidency and prevent Trump from being weakened politically ahead of November’s election.
The Associated Press contributed to this article