The news that Donald Trump’s former national security advisor John Bolton says that Trump definitely wanted the military aid to Ukraine withheld until he got a public declaration of an investigation into Joe Biden’s son has fallen like a bomb on Republicans who had been claiming, against all evidence, that there was no such attempt at extortion and that all the charges were based on hearsay and suppositions. It was pretty obvious that Trump has been lying and that the Republicans were covering it up. But Bolton’s charge is hard for them to ignore because his is first hand testimony and by someone with unimpeachable right-wing credentials.
Trump of course is calling the claim a lie but the problem for him and Republicans is that Bolton is a rabid, warmongering, neoconservative right-winger, the kind of person beloved by Republicans and not easily dismissed as an anti-Trump partisan. But they will try. likely by suggesting that he is embittered by being fired by Trump and thus is trying to get revenge.
Bolton’s charge was made in a draft of a book that he had submitted to the White House for clearance, as is the norm with people who have had access to classified information. Bolton, his agent, and his publisher all deny leaking the information. They say they gave the manuscript to the White House all the way back in December and that the leak must have come from there.
Bolton, publisher and agent deny coordination with NYT in joint statement via @hitalie: "Ambassador John Bolton, Simon & Schuster, and Javelin Literary categorically state that there was absolutely no coordination with the New York Times or anyone else…
— Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) January 27, 2020
But who? The effort to avoid being fingered has begun.
This latest revelation has thrown a wrench into senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell’s plans to conduct a quick mockery of a trial and acquit Trump without calling any new witnesses or evidence. Now those Republican senators who coyly posture about doing the right thing before doing exactly what Trump wants are faced with an even more embarrassing situation. But cynic that I am, I expect them to find a way to swallow their pride once again. It becomes easier when you have almost no pride left.