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Defense Attorneys Remind Senate of 'Undisputed Facts' as Bolton's Book Adds Push to Hear Witnesses

01-27-2020
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A potential game-changer in the impeachment trial after a draft of John Bolton's book appears to undercut a key defense argument. 

The former national security advisor claims President Trump tied Ukraine security aid to investigating the Bidens.

President Trump's legal team said the commander-in-chief was acting under his constitutional and legal authority, adding that asking a foreign leader to get to the bottom of corruption is not breaking the law.

"I want to keep coming back to facts, facts that are really undisputed," said Jay Sekulow, Trump's attorney. "The president in his conversation was clear on a number of points but so was President Zelensky. I mentioned that at the close of my arguments earlier, it was President Zelensky that said, 'No pressure. I didn't feel any pressure.'" 

But contradicting to Sekulow's opening argument Monday, the New York Times reported they received an unpublished transcript of Bolton's upcoming book.

In it, Bolton writes President Trump told him in August of last year that he wanted to continue withholding military aid to Ukraine until they launched investigations into the Bidens.

"Not true," said Trump as he fielded questions outside the Oval Office. "Well, I haven't seen a manuscript but I can tell you nothing was ever said to John Bolton. But I have not seen the manuscript. I guess he is writing a book. I have not seen it." 

White House Counsel Prof. Alan Dershowitz told the Senate on Monday, "Nothing in the Bolton revelations even if true would rise to the level of an abuse of power or an impeachable offense."

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called this revelation a "White House cover-up," while pointing to his counterpart across the aisle for the need to hear from Bolton during the trial. 

"This is stunning. It goes right to the heart of the charges against the president," Schumer said. "Ambassador Bolton essentially confirms the president committed the offenses charged in the first article of impeachment. It boils down to one thing. We have a witness with first-hand evidence of the president's actions for which he is on trial."

Bolton has said he would testify if subpoenaed by the Senate. Now some Republican senators have also come out saying let him testify.

"I've said for some time I'd like to be able to hear from John Bolton," said Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT). "I think with the story that came out yesterday, it's increasingly important to hear from John Bolton.  I will make a final decision on witnesses after we've heard from the prosecution but also the defense. But I think pretty fair to say that John Bolton has a relevant testimony to provide to those of us who are sitting in impartial justice."

With support growing from both sides, it appears likely the Senate could hear from witnesses.

There are reports that GOP leaders are receptive to a suggestion by Republican Sen. Pat Toomey to allow one prosecution witness in exchange for one defense witness. The question on witnesses could be decided later this week. The president's legal team is expected to wrap up opening arguments today.

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