WASHINGTON (WFLA) – President Donald Trump’s legal team will continue presenting opening arguments in his impeachment trial on Monday as Democrats ramp up their calls for John Bolton to testify.
The renewed push for the former national security adviser’s testimony comes after the New York Times reported that an unpublished draft of his forthcoming book contradicts a key defense argument in the impeachment. According to the report, Bolton claims in his book that Trump tied the withholding of aid to Ukraine to the demand that the country investigate Joe Biden.
White House Counsel Jay Sekulow seemingly addressed the book draft as soon as he took the Senate floor on Monday for the second day of opening arguments from the defense team.
“We deal with transcript evidence,” he told the Senate. “We do not deal with speculation, allegations that are not based on evidentiary standards at all.”
President Trump issued a series of tweets early Monday morning denying Bolton’s claims.
“I NEVER told John Bolton that the aid to Ukraine was tied to investigations into Democrats, including the Bidens,” the president wrote. “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.”
Democrats have been pushing to hear testimony from Bolton and other witnesses like Mick Mulvaney since the beginning of the impeachment inquiry. They’re hoping now that this weekend’s news will help convince Republican senators to join them in calling for witnesses.
At least four Republicans would need to break rank and vote with Democrats in order for any witnesses to be called.
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) told reporters Monday morning that he wants to hear Bolton’s testimony and indicated other Republicans are starting to feel the same.
“I think it’s increasingly likely that other Republicans will join those of us who think we should hear from John Bolton,” Sen. Romney said. “I think John Bolton’s relevance to our decision has become pretty significant.”
Another Senate Republican, Susan Collins of Maine, tweeted a statement about the Bolton news Monday morning saying that, “I’ve always said that I was likely to vote to call witnesses.”
“The reports about John Bolton’s book strengthen the case for witnesses and have prompted a number of conversations among my colleagues,” she wrote.
Before the topic of witnesses comes up again in the trial, President Trump’s legal team will finish presenting its case against impeachment. Just as the prosecution did, the defense team will have 24 hours over the course of three days. They started delivering their opening arguments on Saturday but only spent about two hours on the Senate floor before wrapping up for the day.
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