As the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump grows nearer, calls are increasing for Congress to subpoena former National Security Advisor John Bolton to find out what the former White House official knows.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has refused to commit to allowing witnesses at the president's Senate trial, but Bolton's declaration that he would be willing to testify if officially ordered has led to a chorus of voices urging the Democratic-controlled House to subpoena him instead.
has opened the door for the advisor to at least appear before the House, the New York Times' David Leonhardt argued Thursday, where Bolton's testimony could have a lasting effect.
"Democrats have little ability to influence Senate Republicans, at least in the short term," New York Times columnist David Leonhardt wrote Thursday. "But they can and should do everything in their power to influence public opinion, which may well influence the makeup of the Senate and the occupant of the White House in the longer term."
Bolton is considered a potential key witness in Trump's efforts in August and September to withhold military aid as a pressure point to force Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to publicly announce an investigation into Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President and current 2020 Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden.
As Common Dreams reported, Bolton on Monday said he would abide by a Senate subpoena if one were issued.
"If the Senate issues a subpoena for my testimony, I am prepared to testify," the former advisor said.
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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has thus far delayed the Senate trial by withholding the articles of impeachment until McConnell provides a roamap for the trial. Senate Democrats have recently called for the speaker to turn the articles over but the California Democrat said Thursday she was not ready to do so yet—adding that holding the articles back had already led to Bolton's Monday declaration.
"I'll send them over when I'm ready," Pelosi during a Thursday morning press conference on Capitol Hill.
“No, I’m not holding them indefinitely. I’ll send them over when I’m ready."— Dustin Gardiner (@dustingardiner) January 9, 2020
Pelosi ticks off list of recent developments, including Bolton's willingness to testify under subpoena, arguing the strategy has paid off. #impeachment #SenateTrial @sfchronicle https://t.co/kTUbNESjaf
As Crooked Media's Brian Beutler pointed out, Bolton's willingness to submit to a subpoena change the calculation:
Schumer's view reflects the strategy Democrats set in motion before Bolton chimed in: Delay the trial until Republicans announced whether they would rig it or not. Maximize pressure on them to conduct a fair trial, but make their coverup scheme clear to the world if not. With Bolton's statement in hand, and Republicans grasping at inane justifications for not issuing him the subpoena he's requested, House Democrats should change plans: issue him a subpoena themselves, and advise Republicans that the trial won't begin until Bolton testifies, in one chamber or the other.
In an essay for NBC Think, Kurt Bardella opined that a refusal to call Bolton before Congress now that the former advisor has put the ball in lawmakers' court could have ramifications beyond the Trump presidency.
"What Congress does—or doesn't—do will be used as a blueprint for whoever comes next," wrote Bardella.