The timing of the lightening-quick House impeachment inquiry is coming back to haunt Democrats again as they now cry about desperately needing former White House National Security Adviser John Bolton to testify.
As Adam Schiff gamely tried to explain the need to hear from Bolton now during the question-and-answer period during Wednesday’s impeachment trial, it’s good to remember that Schiff just blew off Bolton to speed to an impeachment vote.
Bolton offered to testify, but Schiff, in such a hurry to get the impeachment out by Christmas, forsook the inevitable court battle it would take to determine if he would be under executive privilege.
In his podcast Tuesday, Senator Ted Cruz said that instead of fighting to get Bolton to testify in the House impeachment inquiry, House Democrats “affirmatively went to the District Court in writing and said ‘we don’t need John Bolton.'”
Schiff was asked about Bolton testifying during Wednesday’s impeachment trial and he switched his story: “Yes, we asked John Bolton to testify in the House and he refused. But we asked his deputy Dr. Kupperman to testify and he refused,” he said. “Fortunately, we asked their deputy Fiona Hill to testify and she did. We asked her deputy to testify, Col. Vindman, and he did. But we did seek the testimony of John Bolton and as well as Dr. Kupperman and they refused.”
Schiff’s latest explanation is in contrast to the Wall Street Journal’s reporting of the event last November:
House Democrats didn’t try to compel former national security adviser John Bolton to testify on Thursday in the impeachment probe of President Trump, holding their fire as a federal court plans to rule soon on whether another former White House official can avoid cooperating with lawmakers.
The decision not to subpoena Mr. Bolton indicated that House Democrats are eager to keep the inquiry on a fast track and don’t want to get bogged down in legal fights. The move deprives Mr. Bolton of a legal avenue to challenge a subpoena and puts pressure on him to accept the ruling in a separate case that raises the same legal question of whether close presidential advisers are entirely immune from testifying.
The House retracted its subpoena to Kupperman this week, and that’s part of the reason why the House hasn’t subpoenaed Bolton: to avoid the start of yet another court battle.
In fact, Schiff used Bolton’s question to the District Court about his legal options as a reason to charge the president with “obstruction of Congress” in the impeachment proceeding. The Wall Street Journal reported: “We regret Mr. Bolton’s decision not to appear voluntarily, but we have no interest in allowing the Administration to play rope-a-dope with us in the courts for months,” he said. “Rather, the White House instruction that he not appear will add to the evidence of the President’s obstruction of Congress.”
In his podcast Tuesday, Senator Cruz warned his colleagues that the issue isn’t about Bolton, it’s about a “fishing expedition”:
In the House, John Bolton went to a District Court and he said he was willing to testify and he asked a District judge, “what should I do” because the White House has told me not to, the House wants me to. And the House of Representatives affirmatively went to the District Court in writing and said “we don’t need John Bolton.” They never subpoenaed him and they withdrew their request and said “we’re not asking for him.” And I said, “look, I understand for senators, they’re agonizing and the media will beat up on you and say ‘don’t you really wanna be fair and call him?'” If they wanted to call John Bolton, they could have tried and they decided they didn’t need his testimony. This is not about John Bolton or any one witness, this is about delaying and engaging in a fishing expedition.
Cruz predicted that, like the Kavanaugh hearing, there will be a breathlessly presented “bombshell” every day for the rest of the trial.
He said that if Bolton is called as a witness that he’s “extremely confident we will hear from Hunter Biden … there’s zero chance that Bolton will be the only witness called. And Democrats are terrified about that.”
Cruz said senators should keep an eye on the “actual legal questions of were there high crimes and misdemeanors committed?” He warned that it’s not an impeachable offense to investigate credible reports of corruption.