Senator Susan Collins (R., Maine) said Monday that John Bolton’s confirmation that President Trump tied the provision of military aid to Ukraine to the opening of politically beneficial investigations “strengthens the case for witnesses” in the ongoing impeachment trial.
Collins — a key target of Democrats’ efforts to get Republicans to call witnesses — added that the leak from Bolton’s upcoming book has “prompted a number of conversations among my colleagues” about how the impeachment trial should proceed.
My statement on Bolton developments. pic.twitter.com/3M59J7suts
— Sen. Susan Collins (@SenatorCollins) January 27, 2020
Collins’s statement comes after Senator Mitt Romney said earlier Monday that it was “increasingly likely” that Republicans would vote to hear testimony from Bolton.
“I think it’s increasingly likely that other Republicans will join those of us who think we should hear from John Bolton,” Romney told reporters. “I have spoken with others who have opined upon this.”
According to a manuscript of Bolton’s impending book obtained by the New York Times, the former national security adviser directly witnessed Trump saying in August that some $400 million in congressionally appropriated military aid would only be provided if Ukrainian officials announced investigations into Trump’s political opponents.
In the buildup to the trial, Collins was on the forefront of Republican efforts to allow for the calling of witnesses, after Trump and other allies suggested that Republicans should immediately vote to acquit.
“We should be completely open to calling witnesses,” Collins said on January 10. “I am hopeful that we can reach an agreement on how to proceed with the trial that will allow the opportunity for both the House and the president’s counsel if they choose to do so.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been particularly privy to Collins’s requests, in an effort to keep the Republican 53-47 majority unified. The Kentucky Republican submitted a last-minute change to the rules of the trial last week, after Collins expressed disproval at the proposed length of opening arguments.
Senate Republican aides had said last week — prior to the Bolton news — that it was increasingly unlikely that more than three Republicans would vote for witnesses.