Bolton prepared to testify in impeachment probe pending court ruling – report
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Bolton prepared to testify in impeachment probe pending court ruling – report

Former US national security adviser could be a star witness for House inquiry, and would testify against strong opposition from White House

US President Donald Trump, left, meets with South Korean President Moon Jae-In in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, as then-national security adviser John Bolton, right, watches, May 22, 2018. (Evan Vucci/AP)
US President Donald Trump, left, meets with South Korean President Moon Jae-In in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, as then-national security adviser John Bolton, right, watches, May 22, 2018. (Evan Vucci/AP)

Former US national security adviser John Bolton is reportedly willing to testify in the Trump impeachment inquiry about the administration’s involvement in Ukraine, if a federal court resolves a constitutional dispute between the White House and Congress.

Bolton could be a star witness for the Democrat-led House inquiry, and his testimony would go against strong opposition from the White House.

He would likely confirm previous witness accounts of the Trump administration’s efforts to push Ukrainian officials to investigate Joe Biden and his son in exchange for military aid, according to a Thursday report from The Washington Post, citing “people familiar with his views.”

As US President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, he would have spoken with him directly about Ukraine.

It’s unclear when the ongoing dispute over congressional subpoenas, which will likely go to the Supreme Court, will be resolved. The White House has claimed that senior advisers have “absolute immunity” against testifying, a claim being challenged in the court system.

Bolton failed to show up for a scheduled interview with impeachment investigators on Thursday as Democrats wrapped up the closed-door phase of the inquiry.

An attorney for Bolton, Charles Cooper, said his client has not received a subpoena. Cooper had previously said Bolton wouldn’t appear without one.

Jennifer Williams, a career foreign service officer detailed to US Vice President Mike Pence’s office from the State Department, spoke to investigators Thursday after she was subpoenaed to appear.

Williams is one of several White House aides who were listening in on a July phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in which Trump asked the new leader to investigate Democrats, according to an administration official who requested anonymity to discuss the conversation.

Jennifer Williams, a special adviser to US Vice President Mike Pence for Europe and Russia and a career Foreign Service officer, arrives for a closed-door interview in the impeachment inquiry into US President Donald Trump in Washington, November 7, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

That call is at the center of the Democrats’ impeachment probe.

Investigators are wrapping up the private interviews as they prepare to start public hearings next week.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff announced Wednesday that three State Department witnesses will appear in two hearings next Wednesday and Friday: top Ukraine diplomat William Taylor, career department official George Kent and Marie Yovanovitch, the former US ambassador to Ukraine. Yovanovitch was ousted in May on Trump’s orders and Taylor replaced her; both have testified about their concerns with the administration’s policy on Ukraine.

Democrats scheduled 13 witnesses to testify behind closed doors this week, but so far only Williams and another State Department employee, David Hale, have shown up. Trump has directed his employees not to cooperate with the probe.

In addition to Bolton, Democrats had requested interviews from two other high-level Trump administration witnesses, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and Energy Secretary Rick Perry. Perry did not show up for his Wednesday interview and Mulvaney was not expected to appear for his scheduled deposition on Friday.

Still, Democrats have indicated that they already have ample testimony about Trump’s conduct on Ukraine. A slew of current and former officials from the State Department and White House have already appeared and largely corroborated the same narrative — that Trump had delegated his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, to guide Ukraine policy and that the two men were focused on pressuring Ukraine as the administration withheld military aid from the country.

Trump asked Zelensky to investigate political rival Biden and his family and also Ukraine’s role in the 2016 US presidential election.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky reacts to media questions in Zhytomyr, Ukraine, October 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

Though Trump has said there was no “quid pro quo,” several of the witnesses, including Taylor, have testified that it was their understanding that Ukraine would not receive military assistance or a coveted Oval Office visit until it met the president’s demands.

Democrats say that witnesses like Bolton, Mulvaney and Perry — who did not appear under Trump’s orders — will just add fuel to their case that the president has obstructed justice. They say obstruction is likely to be an article of impeachment against Trump, when and if they are written.

Williams is the first person directly connected with Pence to testify in the probe. The vice president has strongly defended Trump, saying that the transcript of the call in which Trump asks Zelensky for a favor does not show a quid pro quo.

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