Top Republican senators dismissed leaked details from former National Security Adviser John Bolton’s upcoming book, saying the allegations were not new.
“There’s nothing new here. It does seem to be an effort to sell books,” Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), the No. 3 Republican in the Senate, told reporters in Washington on Monday.
“The basic dynamic of the obligation of the House to take the time they have to put a case together doesn’t change. I don’t think it changes any fundamental information, nor does it change the basic case that the House has to put the case together,” added Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), the No. 4 GOP member in the Senate.
Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) argued during an appearance on the “Hugh Hewitt Show” on Monday that the House could have called Bolton but didn’t, and the Senate shouldn’t do the House’s work for them.
“They want us to do the investigative work. And that’s not the job of the Senate,” Ernst, the vice chairwoman of the Senate Republican Conference, said.
Bolton reportedly alleged that he, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, and Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani were in a meeting where the president spoke with Giuliani about former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who was fired last year.
He also alleged Trump also told Bolton that he wanted to keep withholding congressionally approved military aid to Ukraine to try to force officials there to open investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and Biden’s son Hunter Biden.
Mulvaney denied the claims, as did Trump.
According to a declassified transcript of a July 2019 call, the president asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to “look into” allegations of corruption surrounding the Bidens. Hunter Biden sat on the board of Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian energy company, from 2014 to 2019 while his father told audience members at an event in 2018 that in 2016 he pressured Ukrainian leaders into ousting a prosecutor who was probing his son’s employer.
The Bidens have denied wrongdoing while Democrats launched an impeachment inquiry based on the July call. House Democrats argued that because Joe Biden is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, the request amounted to asking a foreign country to interfere in the 2020 election.
Trump was impeached by House Democrats on Dec. 18, 2019, and is on trial in the Republican-held Senate.
Two GOP senators—Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah)—said the details of Bolton’s book bolstered the case for calling Bolton to testify. A third Republican signaled she might vote to call witnesses. Republicans hold a 53-47 majority, meaning Democrats need four GOP members to vote with them.
“I stated before that I was curious as to what John Bolton might have to say,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said in a statement. “From the outset, I’ve worked to ensure this trial would be fair and that members would have the opportunity to weigh in after its initial phase to determine if we need more information.”
“I’ve also said there is an appropriate time for us to evaluate whether we need additional information—that time is almost here. I look forward to the White House wrapping up presentation of its case.”
Other Republican senators joined GOP leaders in suggesting they wouldn’t vote to call Bolton.
“Senator Romney wants to appease the left by calling witnesses who will slander the president during their 15 minutes of fame. The circus is over. It’s time to move on!” Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) said in a statement.
“It really doesn’t change anything,” Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) said at a press conference.
Democrats, meanwhile, argued that the leaked details should compel Republicans to vote to hear from Bolton.
“If GOP senators refuse to hear from Bolton now, they will most certainly hear from him when he releases his book in March. Wouldn’t it be better to get the facts before we vote?” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said in a statement. “The American people deserve the truth during the trial, not after.”
“John Bolton’s account of his conversations with Trump is the smoking gun that should shake Senate Republicans to the core,” added Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.). “We can’t wait for the Impeachment Trial to be over. We can’t wait for his book to be published. We need to hear the truth.”