President Donald Trump’s defenders don’t have the votes to block witnesses from the impeachment trial, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. admitted after a late-night meeting Tuesday with Senate Republicans.
Contrary to popular opinion, one of Trump’s trusted legal experts said this development is a big victory for the White House.
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Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, one of the lawyers working on Trump’s legal defense team, appeared on Newsmax TV Tuesday night and said the appearances of witnesses — even former national security adviser John Bolton — will help with the president’s defense.
A witness deal with Democrats would allow the president’s legal team to summon Hunter Biden to the stand, where they could potentially use his testimony to exonerate the president.
“Look, I like [former Vice President] Joe Biden — he’s a terrific guy, I have known him for years,” Dershowitz said on Newsmax TV’s “Greg Kelly Reports” on Tuesday.
“But Hunter Biden’s conduct and whether or not there was an attempt to suppress an investigation is extremely relevant to the state of mind to the president when he made his call to the president of Ukraine.”
“So, I can’t imagine, under the Constitution, a ruling that says Bolton gets called and Hunter Biden does not,” he said. His testimony would be considered “very relevant — and I can’t imagine either the chief justice or the Senate ruling that Biden’s testimony would be irrelevant.”
On the other side of the witness coin, Bolton’s so-called “bombshells” are expected to be countered. The White House’s legal team has been aware of the Bolton accusations “for weeks” and has been preparing for this exact scenario.
Republican senators have expressed disinterest in Bolton.
“The press loves to obsess over the latest bombshell,” Sen. Ted Cruz, R-T.X., said during a break in the impeachment trial Tuesday. “I don’t know what John Bolton’s book says or doesn’t say … but at the end of the day, it doesn’t impact the legal issue before this Senate … [which is] whether the president has the authority to investigate corruption.”
Sen. John Cornyn, R-T.X, questioned whether there would be anything new in hearing from Bolton. Cornyn said the manuscript accusations are “nothing different than what we’ve already heard.”
Democrats seeking to remove Trump from office should be careful what they wish for with a Bolton testimony — they just might get it.
For much of the last 20 years, John Bolton was a conservative poster child. He has been a Republican whose worldview helped shape the GOP establishment’s approach to foreign policy questions.
If liberal leaders are expecting Bolton to be a savior of the push to oust Trump, insiders believe that Democrats are going to be disappointing.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., gave voice to GOP pique about Bolton’s revelations in an interview with Fox News. He said Bolton had long argued for expansive executive powers to protect a president’s conversations with his advisers but “now he’s going to argue that no, no, no, now that I have a book deal for a couple of million bucks, that it’s OK for me to say and spill the beans on everything the president’s said to me privately.”
Trump has dismissed Bolton as a disgruntled employee whom he fired because of policy differences. Bolton, who left the White House last year, insists he offered his resignation before Trump announced his ouster.
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Trump jabbed at Bolton in a tweet Wednesday, referring to his former adviser as the “guy who couldn’t get approved for the Ambassador to the U.N. years ago” and accusing him of “mistakes of judgment.” Bolton is well-known for his hard-line policy views against Iran and North Korea.
Trump allies, including personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and 2016 campaign adviser Jason Miller, slammed Bolton and said he was being untruthful in order to drive up book sales and remain relevant.
“There is no way in the world President Trump would say this to John Bolton,” Giuliani tweeted. “It’s a shame that a man will sacrifice his integrity to make a few bucks on a book. No wonder he accomplished so little as National Security Advisor.”
As Trump’s legal team has presented the president’s defense this week, it has made the case that Trump never conditioned aid on an investigation of the Bidens. The president’s lawyers have also argued that even if Trump had pressed for the investigation, it doesn’t rise to level of an impeachable offense.
In a sideswipe at Bolton, one of Trump’s attorneys, Jay Sekulow, argued Tuesday that senators cannot impeach a president on an “unsourced allegation.”
Administration officials have also dismissed part of another revelation from the leaked Bolton manuscript, one reported Monday by The New York Times. It said Bolton told Attorney General William Barr last year that he had concerns that Trump was effectively granting personal favors to the leaders of Turkey and China. According to the manuscript, Barr told Bolton he was worried Trump was creating the appearance that he had undue influence over independent Justice Department probes.
The Justice Department has disputed the assertion that there was any discussion of personal favors or undue influence on investigations. The department also disputes that Barr ever said the president’s conversations with foreign leaders were inappropriate.
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“If this is truly what Mr. Bolton has written, then it seems he is attributing to Attorney General Barr his own current views — views with which Attorney General Barr does not agree,” Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said in a statement.
The Associated Press contributed to this article