John Bolton says he is willing to testify in Trump impeachment trial

Surprise move by former national security adviser puts focus on issue of witnesses

Former US national security adviser John Bolton: Has crucial knowledge of the president’s actions and conversations regarding Ukraine that could fill out key blanks in the narrative of the impeachment case. Photograph: Sergei Gapon/AFP via Getty Images

Former US national security adviser John Bolton: Has crucial knowledge of the president’s actions and conversations regarding Ukraine that could fill out key blanks in the narrative of the impeachment case. Photograph: Sergei Gapon/AFP via Getty Images

 

Former US national security adviser John Bolton has said he will testify in the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump if subpoenaed, increasing pressure on Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell to call witnesses.

Mr Trump became only the third US president in history to be impeached last month, but the Senate trial has been delayed following House speaker Nancy Pelosi’s decision not to transfer the articles of impeachment to the upper chamber immediately, as had been expected.

Instead, she called for commitments from the Republican-controlled Senate that it will hold a fair trial, with senior Democrats demanding that witnesses are called. But so far, Mr McConnell has resisted Democrats’ demands, and has accused the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives of not being able to stand behind their “slapdash work” and transmit the articles to the Senate.

In a statement posted on his Twitter account on Monday, Mr Bolton wrote: “If the Senate issues a subpoena for my testimony, I am prepared to testify.”

His intervention complicates matters for the White House, which could challenge any subpoena in court, leading to a protracted legal battle.

Key witness

Mr Bolton left his post as national security adviser in September, and is not believed to be on good terms with the US president. He was a key witness to many of the events involving Mr Trump’s relations with Ukraine which were at the centre of the inquiry that led to the impeachment.

Any decision to subpoena witnesses would need 51 votes in the 100-member chamber. With all 47 Democrats likely to vote in favour, four Republicans would have to vote to endorse subpoenas in order to compel Mr Bolton to testify. Although there is speculation that a handful of Republicans could favour a trial with witnesses, there have been no public statements by Republicans yet.

Mr Trump renewed his attacks on the impeachment process as a “witch hunt” on Monday.

“The Impeachment Hoax, just a continuation of the Witch Hunt which started even before I won the Election, must end quickly,” he tweeted. “Read the Transcripts, see the Ukrainian President’s strong statement, NO PRESSURE – get this done. It is a con game by the Dem [ocrats] to help with the Election!”

With the House of Representatives due to meet for the first time since the Christmas recess on Tuesday, there has been no public statement by Ms Pelosi as to when she will send the impeachment articles to the Senate.