Former national security adviser John Bolton has made allegations that are throwing fresh spanners into the works for Donald Trump’s impeachment trial in the US Senate.
Bolton, an unpopular figure among democrats primarily due to his support of the Iraq War under George W Bush’s administration, has now aided their cause by accusing Trump of withholding $391 million in aid to the Ukraine on condition of their investigation in prominent democrats, including Joe Biden and his son Hunter. This allegation is found in an unpublished manuscript of Bolton’s upcoming memoir.
Republican Senators were caught by surprise with Bolton’s bombshell.
“My impression is that this sort of caught everybody by surprise,” Senate Republican Whip John Thune (S.D.) has told The Hill.
“Maybe you guys did because you’re writing the stories, but, no, we did not know it was coming,”
However, according to Harvard Law School Professor Emeritus Alan Dershowitz, in another The Hill article, that Bolton’s accusations don’t necessarily constitute a crime worthy of impeachment.
“If any president had done what The [New York] Times reported about the content of the Bolton manuscript, that would not constitute an impeachable offense,” Dershowitz said.
While this allegation is unlikely to have any massive direct significance on the final outcome of the trial itself, it could have a huge impact on the way that this trial is conducted, especially with regards to the decision to call witnesses in for the trial, a subject of much debate. Democrats would need four Republican senators to join them in the vote over whether to subpoena witnesses for the trial. Bringing in officials such as former Ambassador to the Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and his associate, Lev Parnas. Bolton, Joe Biden and the President himself are other big names that could be brought to the Senate floor as part of the trial.
With the Democrats needing to sway four Republicans, potential candidates to vote against party lines are Barack Obama’s 2012 presidential opponent, Rep. Mitt Romney (Utah), Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska). Romney set alarm bells ringing when he said it’s “increasingly likely” that Republicans may not vote along party lines.
“My thoughts about how we may all react are personal,” he said.
Even though the result of this trial, Donald Trump’s eventual acquittal, appears to be a foregone conclusion, this adds to a plethora of evidence and testimonies stacking up against Trump. And, with several members of the senate up for re-election, the political consequences for both Trump and the senators themselves, may be massive and their votes may affect their popularity with the American people.