January 28, 2020

Daily Senate Impeachment Trial Update: January 28

Compiled and presented by our colleagues at Hub Action (www.hubaction.org)


The bombshell allegations made by John Bolton in his forthcoming book have undercut Trump’s impeachment defense and rocked the Senate trial. Pressure to subpoena witnesses and documents has drastically intensified, with key Senate Republicans expressing desire to hear from Bolton.


  • Navigator Research: “NEW: 82% of Americans think #BoltonMustTestify in the impeachment trial. Most believe a fair trial should include witnesses with firsthand knowledge of Trump’s actions relating to Ukraine.”



  • ABC News: Bolton bombshell rocks Senate on witness question


  • CNN: Bolton bombshell undercuts Trump impeachment defense


  • Washington Post: Analysis: John Bolton’s book undercuts the Trump defense team’s claims that there are no firsthand witnesses


  • AP: News of Bolton book sends jolt through impeachment trial  |  “It’s a dramatic eyewitness rebuttal to claims by Trump and his legal team that the president didn’t hold up the aid for political reasons. The account immediately gave Democrats new fuel in their pursuit of sworn testimony from Bolton and other witnesses, a question expected to be taken up later this week by the Republican-led Senate.


  • Politico: “Just days ago, the Senate GOP appeared ready to defeat a vote to hear more witnesses sought by Democrats. But that dynamic appears shaken after Trump’s former national security adviser revealed in an upcoming book that Trump allegedly told him directly that he withheld aid to Ukraine because he wanted the country to investigate his political rivals, including former Vice President Joe Biden. Senior Republicans and Democrats alike are unsure whether the president will still get a quick acquittal with no new witnesses before week’s end. Several top Republicans tried to dismiss the Bolton bombshell on Monday, calling it ‘nothing new’ or similar to the late-stage allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior that rocked Brett Kavanaugh's nomination for the Supreme Court in 2018 but ultimately didn't tank it. But Romney and Collins both believe the Bolton revelation could change the dynamic surrounding the trial.”


  • Washington Post: Key GOP senators say reports on Bolton book bolster case for witnesses in impeachment trial


  • Wall Street Journal: Romney Makes 'Forceful' Case for Bolton Testimony at Closed-Door GOP Lunch


  • News Center Maine: Sen. Collins says new Bolton claims 'strengthen the case for witnesses' in Trump's impeachment trial


  • The Hill: Murkowski 'curious' to hear what Bolton has to say


  • Politico: Graham on Bolton: 'I want to see what’s in the manuscript'


  • Washington Post: Toomey proposes a ‘one-for-one’ witness deal in Trump impeachment trial amid Bolton revelations


  • Politico: Republicans struggle to get on message after Bolton rocks trial  |  “Senate Republicans were thrown off-balance Monday by the latest John Bolton revelations, offering a range of convoluted — and at times contradictory — responses to an episode that threatens to upend President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial… Some said it was meaningless. Others said Bolton should make a statement to divulge his knowledge of the case whether he testifies or not. Some said the Senate should obtain the manuscript of Bolton’s book while others questioned Bolton’s credibility. And still others said the prospect of prolonging the trial by calling Bolton or other witnesses could conflict with the upcoming presidential primaries.”


  • CNN: GOP senators sought to stem fallout from Bolton bombshell  |  “Both Sens. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina and ally of Trump’s, as well as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell were in communication and there was an expressed view that the GOP Senate should have been kept in the loop. One message conveyed to the White House, according to a GOP senator with knowledge of the conversations, was that Republicans were on the front lines of the trial and for them to be left without all available information was ‘malpractice.’”


  • CNBC: Trump rages after reports that Bolton book claims president tied Ukraine aid to probes  |  “President Donald Trump vented rage on Twitter just hours before his Senate impeachment trial was set to resume Monday… ‘I NEVER told John Bolton that the aid to Ukraine was tied to investigations into Democrats, including the Bidens,” Trump tweeted early Monday morning. ‘In fact, he never complained about this at the time of his very public termination. If John Bolton said this, it was only to sell a book’...  ‘I think the timing of all of this is very very suspect’ White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a Fox News interview”


  • Vox: “Faced with the news that President Trump’s former National Security Adviser John Bolton’s new book includes an account that undercuts one of Trump’s central impeachment defenses, Fox News and the Trump-supporting Republicans who regularly appear on it went all-in on smearing him as a greedy and disgruntled former aide who only wants sell more copies.”


  • Fox News: Republicans call Bolton leak Kavanaugh ‘2.0,’ as publisher denies coordination


  • CNN: GOP senator [Kelly Loeffler] says Romney 'wants to appease the left by calling witnesses' in impeachment trial


  • CBS News: “White House impeachment defense surrogate Mark Meadows (R-NC), alongside three GOP members of Congress, tells @NorahODonnell that he believes Republican senators will face political repercussions if they break with Pres. Trump”


  • Politico: Trump defense team: Bolton who?  |  “Trump's lawyers, led by Sekulow and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, indicated early on that instead of addressing Bolton’s reported account of his conversations with Trump, they would continue presenting a defense of Trump's conduct toward Ukraine — batting aside the House's charges that Trump pressured Ukrainian officials to launch baseless investigations of his Democratic adversaries.”


  • Los Angeles Times: “President Trump’s legal team ignored explosive claims by former national security advisor John Bolton when they resumed their defense Monday in the Senate impeachment trial, arguing instead that Democrats had mischaracterized the president’s actions in Ukraine.”


  • New York Times: Trump’s lawyers plan to fight Bolton’s testimony.  |  “It is not clear whether they would try to fight the issuance of a subpoena, which would play out before Chief Justice John G. Roberts, or whether they would they try to get a restraining order, which the Justice Department has never done… Whether the White House will try to press for one of its edgier witnesses, like Hunter Biden, in exchange for Mr. Bolton remains to be seen. But they are signaling to senators that the decision to allow Mr. Bolton to testify could end up so entangled in court proceedings that it could take several weeks, something Republican senators are hoping to avoid.”


  • Business Insider: Pam Bondi uses her opening remarks to prosecute a made-up case against Hunter Biden


  • Washington Post Analysis: Trump’s team dismisses the case for impeachment as weak — and then sloppily attacks Joe Biden.  Who needs Ukraine to disparage Biden when your legal team can do it on national television?  |  “There’s only one reason that this broadly debunked line of attack should be resuscitated at this point: It deflects allegations of wrongdoing from Trump back to Biden. That was at the heart of Trump’s desire for an investigation of Biden in the first place, to impugn Biden. It fits neatly into the well-worn grooves of the-other-guy-did-it-too that serves as a path for so many defenses of Trump. Of course, this is precisely the sort of rhetoric Trump wants to see and, hey, he’s the one paying the bills.”


  • NBC News: 'I have nothing to defend. This is all a game,' Biden says  |  “Biden added, ‘There is no one [who] said I'd done anything that was wrong, period. What is there to defend? The reason he's being impeached is because he tried to get a government to smear me and they wouldn't. Come on.’”


  • Washington Post: Trump says he was concerned about corruption in Ukraine. The evidence indicates he was focused on Biden.  |  “Mounting evidence released amid the ongoing presidential impeachment hearings indicates that the pressure President Trump and his aides put on Ukraine was driven by a focus on his political rivals, even as Trump’s defenders say the president was acting out of general concern about corruption in that country… Text messages and congressional testimony also show that, behind the scenes, the president’s envoys repeatedly rejected efforts by Ukrainian officials to commit to broadly cracking down on corruption — insisting instead that their public statements mention the Ukrainian gas company where Biden’s son was on the board and allegations about Ukrainian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.”


Executive Power, Separation of Powers and Federalism