Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah said Monday that more GOP senators want to hear John Bolton’s testimony in President Trump’s impeachment trial, following a report that the president told Mr. Bolton that he was withholding aid from Ukraine in return for an investigation of Democratic candidate Joseph R. Biden.
“It’s increasingly likely that other Republicans will join those of us who think we should hear from John Bolton,” Mr. Romney told reporters. “John Bolton’s relevance to our decision has become increasingly clear. I have spoken with others who have opined on this as well.”
Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine agreed with Mr. Romney.
“The reports about John Bolton’s book strengthen the case for witnesses and have prompted a number of conversations among my colleagues,” she said. “I’ve also said from the beginning that it was very likely that I would vote for witnesses and that has not changed.”
But Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, said any move for witnesses later this week would likely also include Mr. Biden, the former vice president, and his son, Hunter.
“It’s a little hard to know what to make of all this,” Mr. Cornyn said. “I don’t know if this is just a book promotion. … If witnesses are called, I’m sure there’s not just going to be one witness called, so I think if you want to hear from Joe Biden, you want to hear from Hunter Biden. I’m sure there’s a long list of people we could subpoena. But I’m not sure that would advance the case.”
Mr. Bolton has written a draft of a book, due out in March, in which the former White House national security adviser reportedly claims that Mr. Trump told him that he was withholding the military aid until Ukraine came out with investigations of the Bidens. The president said he never told that to Mr. Bolton, and that his former aide is trying to sell books.
The House Democrats’ lead impeachment manager, Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff of California, said the report of Mr. Bolton’s book changes the trial “very dramatically.”
“There is already direct evidence of this link between the $391 million of aid — military aid for Ukraine and the president’s demanding that these political investigations get done,” Mr. Schiff said on CNN.
“But this would be another witness that would corroborate in very direct terms, if this report is accurate, that the president told him unequivocally he was holding up the money until Ukraine did these investigations. It completely blasts another hole in the president’s defense.”
Mr. Schiff said senators who vote against having witnesses in the trial would need to explain after Mr. Bolton’s book is published “why didn’t you want to hear from him when he could have given you information before you rendered your verdict?”
The National Security Council said on Monday that no White House staffers outside its sphere saw Mr. Bolton’s manuscript, a denial that apparently includes the president’s legal team.
“Ambassador Bolton’s manuscript was submitted to the NSC for pre-publication review and has been under initial review by the NSC. No White House personnel outside NSC have reviewed the manuscript,” said NSC spokesman John Ullyot.
Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said the development with Mr. Bolton’s manuscript “goes right to the heart of the charges against the president.”
“Ambassador Bolton essentially confirms the president committed the offenses charged in the first article of impeachment,” Mr. Schumer said. “We have a witness with firsthand evidence of the president’s actions for which he is on trial. He is ready and willing to testify. How can Senate Republicans not vote to call that witness and request his documents?”
The New York Democrat said there “seems to be a giant cover-up among so many of the leading people in the White House.”
“If Senate Republicans are not going to vote to call Mr. Bolton and [White House acting Chief of Staff Mick] Mulvaney and the other witnesses now, if they’re not going to ask for notes and emails, they’re going to be part of the cover-up, too,” he said.