Just one day after a leaked excerpt of John Bolton’s upcoming book revealed that he directly witnessed President Trump condition Ukrainian military aid on a politically beneficial investigation, Trump’s personal lawyer Jay Sekulow claimed during Monday’s impeachment trial that “not a single witness” made such a claim.
“Not a single witness testified that the president himself said that there was any connection between any investigation and security assistance, a presidential meeting, or anything else,” Sekulow stated.
During the House phase of the impeachment process, prominent Republicans, such as Representative Jim Jordan (R., Ohio), based their defense of the president largely on the second-hand nature of the testimony provided by witnesses such as ambassador to the E.U. Gordon Sondland.
That strategy, which was taken up by the president’s lawyers on the Senate floor Saturday, appeared unchanged during Sekulow’s opening remarks on Monday — despite the revelation that Bolton allegedly witnessed Trump’s orchestration of a quid pro quo.
“What we’ve done on Saturday is the pattern that we’re going to continue today as far as how we’re going to deal with the case. We deal with transcript evidence, we deal with publicly available information. We do not deal with speculation, allegations that are not based on evidentiary standards at all,” Sekulow said.
Based on an excerpt of Bolton’s upcoming book “The Room Where It Happened,” The New York Times reported on Sunday that the former national security adviser heard Trump in August tying $400 million in military aid to a public announcement of investigations by Ukrainian officials. The president and his allies have consistently argued that Trump never made that explicit connection.
Following the Bolton news, which broke Sunday night, Trump tweeted the he “NEVER” mentioned the alleged quid-pro-quo to Bolton.
“If John Bolton said this, it was only to sell a book,” Trump said.
Several Senate Republicans appeared willing Monday to vote to compel Bolton’s testimony when the upper chamber votes on witnesses and documents later this week following the conclusion of opening arguments.
“I think it’s increasingly likely that other Republicans will join those of us who think we should hear from John Bolton,” Senator Mitt Romney (R., Utah) told reporters.
Senator Susan Collins (R., Maine) also appeared open to hearing more from Bolton, saying in a statement that the report “strengthens the case for witnesses.”