President Trump’s impeachment trial was going his way until former National Security Adviser John Bolton revealed that Mr. Trump told him last August that he would delay military aid to Ukraine until it conducted an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.
The story, broken by The New York Times, is in a new book by Mr. Bolton, titled “The Room Where It Happened,” that is due to be published March 17.
Until this story was published, the president insisted he had done nothing wrong when he had talked to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and that there was no effort on his part to apply pressure on him to dig up dirt on one of his likely rivals in the 2000 presidential election.
Before the revelation in Mr. Bolton’s book, Mr. Trump and his defenders in the Senate insisted he was innocent of any and all charges in the articles of impeachment by the House. And, for a time, it was questionable whether the Republican-controlled Senate would vote to call witnesses.
Now, as “the president’s Senate Republican supporters were defending his actions toward Ukraine … on Monday, Trump aides and allies were privately girding for the growing possibility that multiple witnesses will be allowed to appear,” The Washington Post reported earlier this week.
White House counsel Pat Cipollone “has privately insisted to senators and allies that the White House did not know Bolton was going to make such an accusation in the book,” The Post reported.” Notably, Mr. Bolton’s manuscript “was submitted to the National Security Council in late December as part of a routine pre-publication review process.”
Why someone at the NSC did not alert the White House remains a mystery. It was common knowledge that Mr. Bolton and Mr. Trump did not get along, and the fact that Mr. Bolton had written a tell-all book about the president should have immediately raised warning signs in the West Wing.
“Details that became public last Sunday from Bolton’s unpublished book manuscript suggest that he could provide direct evidence that Trump sought to deny security assistance to Ukraine until Kyiv announced investigations into political opponents, including the Bidens. That linkage is at the heart of House Democrats’ case that Trump abused his power in holding up the Ukraine aid for his personal political benefit and then obstructed Congress’s subsequent investigation,” The Post observed this week.
It’s hard not to overstate the powerful impact that Mr. Bolton’s book will have on the outcome of Mr. Trump’s impeachment trial.
In a joint statement, the seven impeachment managers called the Bolton announcement “explosive.”
Moreover, the former national security adviser has already announced that he would testify before the Senate, if he is subpoenaed.
“The Senate trial must seek the full truth and Mr. Bolton has vital information to provide,” the House managers said in a statement Sunday. “There is no defensible reason to wait until his book is published, when the information he has to offer is critical to the most important decision senators must now make — whether to convict the president of impeachable offenses.”
Many Republican senators, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, want the Senate to avoid witnesses. But four Republicans say they want four Republican witnesses, including Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee.
According to one senior Republican, who spoke to The Post on condition of anonymity, “John Bolton has the evidence. It’s up to four Senate Republicans to ensure that John Bolton, Mick Mulvaney, and the others with direct knowledge of President Trump’s actions testify in the Senate trial,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, New York Democrat, said in a tweet.
Mr. Trump has needlessly made a lot of political enemies in the nation’s capital throughout his presidency.
“This is a wrathful and vindictive president, Rep. Adam B. Schiff, California Democrat, said on Sunday’s “Meet the Press.”
“Look at the president’s tweets about me today, saying that I should “pay a price.’”
“Do you take that as a threat?” Chuck Todd, the host of the NBC show, asked.
“I think it’s intended to be,” Mr. Schiff replied.
• Donald Lambro is a syndicated columnist and contributor to The Washington Times.