The unpublished manuscript essentially confirms the main charge against Trump, according to The New York Times. But Trump’s attorneys contend that even if the account were true, it would not merit the removal of a president during an election year.
“You can’t impeach the president on an unsourced allegation,” Jay Sekulow, one of Trump’s personal lawyers, told senators on Tuesday, calling the manuscript of the upcoming book “inadmissible.”
Bolton’s book alleges that Trump tied the release of congressionally approved Ukraine aid to the Ukranian government’s opening investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter. The news about the manuscript, first described by The New York Times over the weekend, caught Senate Republicans by surprise, upping the pressure on them to allow witnesses such as Bolton and other documents to be presented during the trial.
Sekulow quoted statements from Trump, the Department of Justice and the office of Vice President Mike Pence pushing back against Bolton’s recollections about the hold on Ukraine aid. He also repeated an argument from Harvard law professor and fellow defense team member Alan Dershowitz, who said that the president cannot be removed from office “even if there was a quid pro quo, which we have clearly established there was not.”
By calling into question the veracity of Bolton’s account during the trial, however, Trump’s lawyers may be bolstering the case for calling him to testify.
“I’d like to hear from John Bolton. That would be my preference,” Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) told reporters on Tuesday.
It’s up to the Senate whether Bolton becomes part of the trial. Senators will vote later this week on whether to issue witness subpoenas.
The president’s team has argued against calling witnesses, while Democrats have insisted that Bolton and other people with direct knowledge of the president’s actions should testify.
Some Republicans suggested that senators should be able to read the book manuscript in a secure room. “Looking at the manuscript makes sense to me,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told HuffPost on Tuesday.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), a key moderate, said that viewing Bolton’s manuscript “might be helpful.”
But Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) called the idea of merely reading the manuscript “total bullshit.”
“You have to be able to put John Bolton under oath and question him, and they are so scared of his testimony because they know it will blow a giant hole in the president’s case,” Murphy said.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) argued that hearing from Bolton under cross-examination is the only way to test what he says and whether it’s true and whether it’s credible.”