White House representatives have released an official statement warning John Bolton, former National Security Advisor to the President, not to publish his upcoming book, as it apparently contains damaging “classified information”.
Bolton left his position as a senior security advisor in September 2019, after clashing with President Trump over foreign policy matters. He has claimed in his yet to be published book that Trump explicitly told him that he was cutting off aid to Ukraine, which forced them to look into alleged corruption involving Joe Biden’s son.
This contradicts Trump’s argument that the negotiations with Ukraine’s President Zelensky were above board and simply sought to eradicate corruption, not to financially blackmail the vulnerable country into working to undermine Trump’s electoral opponent.
The allegations in the Bolton manuscript, currently titled “The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir,” are timely, as the Senate is in the midst of an impeachment trial. Tomorrow they will converge to vote whether witnesses will be heard, something Trump and Republicans have been trying to prevent.
The Senate has 53 Republican members and 47 Democrats, so the vote is likely to fall in the President’s favour. However, multiple moderate Republicans, including 2012 Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, have made noises to suggest that they are willing to break the partisan line and vote with Democrats to allow witnesses into the trial, Bolton being a key figure that Democrats would like to question.
Aside from Romney, Republicans Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski have hinted that they will be voting for witness testimonies. This raises the possibility of a 50-50 split in the Senate, an occurrence not seen in an impeachment trial since 1868.
A complex overlap of constitutional guidelines and senate precedents makes the question of who can cast a tie-breaking vote murky, but the responsibility technically falls to Chief Justice John Roberts, who is presiding over the trial. However, neither parties are expecting a dramatic intervention from the Supreme Court Judge, as such an action would most likely be decried as overly imposing.
It is most probable that John Bolton, and other desired witnesses, will not be called to testify in the senate, and the trial will be rapidly finalised in Donald Trump’s favour. However, this decision is not a popular move, with a recent poll finding that a huge 75% of Americans want witnesses to be called to the trial. If Trump survives the impeachment trial, John Bolton’s soon-to-be-published allegations and the other unexplored avenues of the Ukraine scandal may still haunt him all the way to the 2020 Presidential Election.
Written by Labour writer, Max Ingleby