Impeachment trial: Trump team presents defense as pressure builds for new witnesses

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FILE – President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media as National Security Adviser John Bolton listens during a meeting with President of Romania Klaus Iohannis in the Oval Office of the White House August 20, 2019 in Washington, DC.(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images/File)

On Sunday, The New York Times reported former national security adviser John Bolton wrote in a manuscript of his upcoming book that Mr. Trump explicitly refused to release nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine in 2019 unless the country pursued investigations into his political rivals, including the Bidens. The Times reported Bolton had submitted the manuscript to the White House for a standard prepublication review for classified information.

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Mr. Trump’s attorneys spent much of the day sidestepping Bolton’s claims until Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz began speaking around 8 p.m. Dershowitz confronted Bolton’s allegations head on, arguing that even if they are true, the president’s actions still don’t rise to the level of an impeachable offense.

Earlier in the day, Democrats seized on The New York Times report to accuse the White House of a cover-up and to urge Republican senators to join them in supporting a subpoena for Bolton, who has said he’s willing to testify. Several Republican senators who have been open to hearing new testimony reiterated their view that witnesses should be called, including Mitt Romney and Susan Collins.

Bolton’s reported accusations directly contradict the argument put forward by Mr. Trump’s attorneys, namely that there was no connection between the delay in aid and the president’s requests for investigations. Bolton would be the first official to testify that the president personally connected the two issues.

The president denied Bolton’s account in several late-night tweets, saying he never told Bolton the aid was tied to investigations and accusing his former aide of trying to sell his book.

A vote on whether to allow the consideration of subpoenas won’t come until later in the week. Going into Monday, Mr. Trump’s legal team had 22 hours left for their presentations over two days, but the attorneys have said they don’t plan to use all of their allotted time.

Sixteen hours of questions will follow the defense team’s arguments, after which the Senate will debate and vote on whether to consider motions on subpoenas for witnesses and documents.

Trial concludes for the night

Just after 9 p.m., the trial wrapped up for the evening. The trial will resume at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Senator Mitch McConnell announced.

Dershowitz says even if Bolton claims are true, they aren’t impeachable

After hours had passed without the president’s legal team addressing the explosive allegations from Bolton as reported by The New York Times, Alan Dershowitz addressed them head on.

“It follows from this that if a president, any president, were to have done what the Times reported about the content of the Bolton manuscript, that would not constitute an impeachable offense,” Bolton said. “Let me repeat. Nothing in the Bolton revelations, even if true, would rise to the level of an abuse of power or an impeachable offense. That is clear from the history, that is clear from the language of the Constitution. You cannot turn conduct that is not impeachable into impeachable conduct simply by using words like ‘quid pro quo’ and ‘personal benefit.'”

According to the New York Times, in a forthcoming book, Bolton says President Trump tied nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine directly to the country opening investigations into his political rivals, including the Bidens.

Dershowitz made the comment in making his case that even abuse of power is not an impeachable offense, nor is engaging in a quid pro quo.

Trump denies telling Bolton aid was tied to investigations

The president denied Bolton’s accusations in a series of late-night tweets, claiming he never told Bolton about a connection between the aid and

“I NEVER told John Bolton that the aid to Ukraine was tied to investigations into Democrats, including the Bidens. In fact, he never complained about this at the time of his very public termination,” the president wrote. “If John Bolton said this, it was only to sell a book.”

Schumer accuses White House of “massive cover-up”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer accused the White House of orchestrating a “massive cover-up” and called on four Republicans to join Democrats to support calling new witnesses in the Senate trial.

“The @NYTimes report suggests multiple top Trump Admin officials knew the facts and deliberately misled Congress and the American people,” Schumer tweeted. “A massive White House cover-up. All we need is four Republican Senators to get the truth.”

Schumer has demanded Bolton’s testimony in the Senate trial for weeks, and led an unsuccessful effort on the first day of the trial to issue subpoenas for evidence and testimony from Bolton and other administration officials.

Bolton’s lawyer blames White House for “corrupted” review process

Hours after The Times reported the details of Bolton’s manuscript, his attorney implied the White House of being the source of the revelations.

“It is clear, regrettably, from The New York Times article published today that the prepublication review process has been corrupted and that information has been disclosed by persons other than those properly involved in reviewing the manuscript,” attorney Charles Cooper said in a statement.

Cooper released a letter dated December 30, 2019, to a White House official regarding prepublication review of the manuscript. Cooper wrote that Bolton “carefully sought to avoid any discussion in the manuscript” of classified information, and asked the White House to expedite the review process given the “highly time sensitive” publication schedule.

Cooper noted in the letter his client’s expectation that access to the manuscript would be “restricted to those career government officials and employees regularly charged with responsibility for such reviews.”

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