House impeachment managers said late Sunday that former National Security Advisor John Bolton must be called as a witness in the Senate impeachment trial following a New York Times report they said shows "Bolton directly contradicts the heart of the president's defense."
According to a manuscript of an unpublished book by Bolton sent to the White House to be reviewed for classified information and also shared with associates, President Donald Trump told Bolton in August that he wanted to continue freezing Ukraine aid until that country's government helped with investigations Trump sought into former Vice President Joe Biden, his son Hunter Biden, and other Democrats, the Times reported. The decision to hold that aid is at the center of the impeachment probe.
From the Times:
The submission to the White House may have given Mr. Trump's aides and lawyers direct insight into what Mr. Bolton would say if he were called to testify at Mr. Trump's impeachment trial. It also intensified concerns among some of his advisers that they needed to block Mr. Bolton from testifying, according to two people familiar with their concerns.
In a joint statement, the impeachment managers—Reps. Adam Schiff (Calif.), Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.), Zoe Lofgren (Calif.), Hakeem Jeffries (N.Y.), Val Demings (Fla.), Jason Crow (Colo.), and Sylvia Garcia (Texas)—said the reporting "confirms what we already know. There can be no doubt now that Mr. Bolton directly contradicts the heart of the president's defense and therefore must be called as a witness at the impeachment trial of President Trump."
"Senators should insist that Mr. Bolton be called as a witness, and provide his notes and other relevant documents," they continued. "The Senate trial must seek the full truth and Mr. Bolton has vital information to provide. There is no defensible reason to wait until his book is published, when the information he has to offer is critical to the most important decision Senators must now make — whether to convict the president of impeachable offenses."
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“During our impeachment inquiry, the president blocked our request for Mr. Bolton's testimony," the group said, adding, "Now we see why. President Trump's cover-up must come to an end."
Other lawmakers weighed in as well.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a Democratic presidential candidate, said the "Senate must hear from Bolton as a witness in the impeachment proceedings."
"There is no pretense left. There are no excuses remaining," said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.).
"Now, with Bolton ready to definitely confirm Trump's high crime," Murphy said, "every Republican who refuses to hear his testimony lands a potentially mortal blow to the rule of law in America."