Just 3 weeks ago Trump claimed Bolton had no relevant testimony. Here’s the lie in a banner headline from his very own propaganda network:
President Trump waved off the possibility that his former national security advisor John Bolton’s testimony in the upcoming Senate impeachment trial would be of any consequence saying Bolton “would know nothing about what we’re talking about,” in regards to Trump’s phone call with the president of Ukraine back in July.
“He would know nothing about what we’re talking about because if you know, the Ukrainian government came out with a very strong statement, no pressure, no anything, and that’s from the boss, that’s from the president of Ukraine,” Trump said during a press conference following a bilateral meeting with the prime minister of Greece on Tuesday. “The foreign minister came out with a statement that was equally as strong.”
And here’s some other reporting on the lie if you can’t bear clicking on a Fox News link – can’t fault you there – I just posted it to show how deeply immersed Trump’s base is in the quagmire of his lies.
Axios reported on Trump’s statement at the time, but had the journalistic integrity to point out that many witnesses have testified that Bolton must have relevant testimony – and this was even before today’s bombshell report that Bolton, himself, has written that Trump was at the center of the scheme.
From January 7:
President Trump said Tuesday that former national security adviser John Bolton “would know nothing about what we’re talking about” if he testified in the Senate impeachment trial, adding that it will be “up to the lawyers” and the Senate to decide whether he appears.
Reality check: A number of witnesses told the House impeachment inquiry that Bolton was present in several meetings and conversations related to President Trump’s decision to withhold military aid to Ukraine. Axios also reported in November that current and former administration officials believe Bolton was the most prolific note-taker at the top level of the White House.
Former National Security Council official Tim Morrison told impeachment investigators Bolton met privately with the president in August to convince him to release nearly $400 million in frozen military aid to Ukraine.
Former White House official Fiona Hill recounted an episode during which Bolton told her, “I am not part of whatever drug deal [EU Ambassador Gordon] Sondland and [acting chief of staff Mick] Mulvaney are cooking up,” and asked her to relay that message to White House lawyers.
Bolton’s lawyer confirmed in November he was a “part of many relevant meetings and conversations” that would be significant to the impeachment inquiry.
The state of play: Bolton said on Monday that he would testify in Trump’s impeachment trial if the Senate subpoenaed him. However, that would require four GOP senators to vote with Democrats to call him as a witness, and it’s unclear whether enough moderate Republicans would be willing to break ranks.
- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday he plans to move forward on approving rules for the trial without negotiating with Democrats.
- McConnell has expressed no interest in subpoenaing Bolton, but Minority Leader Chuck Schumer will still likely bring votes on witnesses after each side makes its opening arguments.
Of note: Trump tweeted in November about Bolton and his dealings with Ukraine, stating, “John Bolton is a patriot and may know that I held back the money from Ukraine because it is considered a corrupt country, & I wanted to know why nearby European countries weren’t putting up money also.”
UPDATE: I located the news conference where Trump delivered this lie (meeting with Greek Prime Minister Kriakos Mitsotakisin in the Oval Office on January 7, 2020).
Here’s the clip, queued up. It’s difficult to hear the reporter ask his question, but the transcript records it as, “Will you be okay if John Bolton testifies? He indicated yesterday that he would if he is subpoenaed.”
Then you can hear the President clearly state that Bolton would know nothing (a 5-second C-Span intro will play before the clip starts):