Schiff: We asked John Bolton to submit a signed affidavit describing Trump's Ukraine misconduct -- and he refused

Legal eagles, is there an obvious legal reason why Bolton might have declined this offer? I’m trying to tease out his motives over the past month and can’t find a coherent storyline. Watch, then read on.

Bolton understandably might have had misgivings about submitting an affidavit after the White House warned him that the manuscript that he submitted to the National Security Council is allegedly brimming with classified information. That was a warning shot to Bolton to keep his mouth shut until the draft has been vetted lest he say something that might earn him criminal prosecution.

But how do we square with the fact that he had already publicly declared his willingness to testify before the Senate? He could have submitted an affidavit and the Senate could have reviewed it in the SCIF, since all members have security clearances. Or he could have submitted it and left it to Trump’s lawyers to decide what to do about it. They could have moved to prevent it from being admitted as evidence on executive privilege grounds or what have you and then John Roberts and the Senate would have dealt with it.

Schiff suggests in the clip that maybe Bolton didn’t want to spill any juicy secrets that might help sell books later, but again, he was willing to testify. And some of those secrets had already spilled to the New York Times over the past few weeks, probably via Bolton himself or friends to whom he’d given a draft of the manuscript to review.

For the past month he’s been in a bizarre limbo between signaling his interest in telling all under very particular circumstances and scrupulously refusing to say a word outside those particular circumstances. Deposing him as part of a Senate impeachment trial in which the president’s job hangs in the balance? Sure, he’s down for that. Holding a press conference? Doing an interview? Releasing a relevant excerpt from his manuscript? Submitting an affidavit, per Schiff’s request?

Nah, man, he’s not doing that. Either he waltzes into the Senate to nuke Trump or everyone will just have to keep on wondering. Even though the affidavit functionally would have nuked the president almost as completely as actual testimony would have. And even though it might have triggered his testimony in person by convincing Murkowski and Alexander to reluctantly call him as a witness.

Maybe it was all a big con. He may have said at the beginning of January that he’d be willing to testify knowing that interest in his book would explode and gambling — shrewdly — that Senate Republicans wouldn’t have the stones to actually subpoena him. Why would they complicate their own lives by inviting an incriminating witness into a process that was supposed to end with the president’s acquittal? Sure, Mitt Romney might be taking the trial seriously, but he was the only one. There’s no chance I’ll actually be called, Bolton may have thought.

But even that cynical theory of his behavior doesn’t explain the repeated leaks from his book to the Times, upping the pressure on Murkowski and Alexander to call him. If those leaks came from Bolton, he was really tempting fate if he secretly preferred not to be called. So maybe they didn’t come from him. Maybe it really was an anti-Trumper on the NSC who leaked.

The most reasonable explanation I can come up with for why he refused to submit an affidavit is the timing of the request by Schiff. He says he asked Bolton to do it *after* Senate Republicans had already voted not to call witnesses. Possibly Bolton felt that it would have been inappropriate at that point to try to blow up the trial by offering last-second evidence, after a majority had already decided that it didn’t need to hear anything more. Someone should have asked Schiff why he didn’t think to make the request before the big witness vote. Did he think it would backfire and look like a dirty trick? Because it would have looked pretty dirty to submit the affidavit after the Senate had already voted on witnesses too.

Pelosi was asked this morning at her press conference about subpoenaing Bolton, per Nadler’s comments yesterday. Not just yet, she said:

“We will continue to do our oversight to protect and defend the Constitution,” Pelosi told reporters at her weekly news conference.

“We have some cases in court now,” Pelosi said. “If there are others we see as an opportunity, we’ll make a judgment at that time, but we have no plans right now.”…

The Supreme Court is expected to rule next month in a case involving Trump’s refusal to turn over his tax returns to congressional investigators.

She’s on to the next potential scandal. If the quest to get Trump’s tax returns fizzles, maybe then she’ll come back to Bolton to see if he has something up his sleeve. If instead the quest pays off, lefties will forget all about Ukraine as they spend the next month or two splashing around in Trump’s finances.

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Ed Morrissey 1:20 PM | July 17, 2024