Will this be part of the closed-door phase of impeachment depositions that’s now coming to an end?
Or will it be televised for maximum lit-ness?
One would think Pelosi and Schiff would want to keep an unpredictable witness like Bolton testifying in secret until they know what he’s going to say. Granted, he’s on the outs with Trump. But he’s also been a loyal soldier for the GOP for a long time. Knifing Trump would turn a lot of his friends into enemies. And besides, Bolton’s always seemed to enjoy knifing his adversaries via whispers to the media, not out in the open in front of a mic. Maybe he won’t be as helpful to Democrats as people suspect.
NEW depositions coming up with some big names, a source familiar w/ impeachment inquiry tells me:
John Eisenberg and Michael Ellis slated for 11/4
🚨John Bolton, former national security advisor, for 11/7
— Olivia Beavers (@Olivia_Beavers) October 30, 2019
NBC News confirms Fmr Nat'l Security Adv. John Bolton will report to House for deposition next week
— Jesse Rodriguez (@JesseRodriguez) October 30, 2019
That NBC tweet makes it sound like Bolton has agreed to testify — which would be a surprise, since Bolton’s former deputy, Charles Kupperman, is right now fighting a subpoena that would compel him to do the same. It was assumed that Bolton would take the same stance. Maybe Bolton’s “agreement” to appear is just a formality, with the White House destined to assert executive privilege in blocking his testimony and Bolton destined to end up in the same legal limbo as Kupperman.
Or maybe there is no agreement:
Reports that Bolton *will* show up next week are not correct. He has been invited to appear — and seems almost certain that he won't until a court resolves his former deputy Charles Kupperman's legal challenge to a House subpoena.
The two men share the same lawyer.
— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) October 30, 2019
Meanwhile, the questions about how much Bolton knew of Trump’s intentions towards Ukraine continue to accumulate. Apparently Alexander Vindman testified yesterday that he was shut out of some of Trump’s briefings on Ukraine even though he was a top expert on the National Security Council. In his place was Kashyap Patel, a former staffer to Devin Nunes who had joined the White House but had no apparent Ukraine expertise. What the hell was Patel doing there? Unclear — but somehow Trump had been convinced that Patel was the key voice on the subject on the NSC and so Vindman was excluded for fear of making the briefing “uncomfortable.” Supposedly Bolton knew all about this. I’d be keen to hear him explain why the commander-in-chief was hearing from unqualified advisors with no obvious reason to be briefing the president instead of from his own NSC and why Bolton agreed to let that happen.
Then there’s this:
[T]estimony on Wednesday from Christopher Anderson makes clear that administration officials were concerned about Giuliani’s back-channel involvement in Ukraine policy and his push for investigations even before the July phone call between President Donald Trump and his Ukraine counterpart that’s now at the center of the House impeachment inquiry. On that call, Trump prodded Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden.
Anderson describes a June meeting in which he said Bolton expressed support for the administration’s goals of strengthening energy cooperation between the U.S. and Ukraine and getting Zelenskiy to undertake anti-corruption reforms.
“However, he cautioned that Mr. Giuliani was a key voice with the president on Ukraine which could be an obstacle to increased White House engagement,” Anderson will say, according to a copy of his prepared remarks obtained by The Associated Press.
How early did Bolton learn of Giuliani’s role in Ukraine “diplomacy,” and how? Remember that Rudy was talking publicly about his interest in the Burisma and CrowdStrike investigations in May, a month before that conversation between Anderson and Bolton. So it’s possible that Bolton only knew what he knew of Giuliani’s activities from what he had read in the New York Times.
But it’s also possible that he had seen or heard things firsthand, which is why his testimony is so important.
As much as everyone wants to hear from Bolton, House Democrats simply don’t have time for a long court battle over compelling him to appear. Unless the courts rule quickly, Pelosi and Schiff might simply drop their demands to have Bolton and Kupperman testify and instead proceed to impeachment, where they’ll include a charge of obstruction of justice against Trump for abusing claims of executive privilege in order to bottle up key witnesses.
In lieu of an exit question, here’s Trump’s nominee to be ambassador to Russia testifying today at his confirmation hearing. I wonder if he’ll still be the nominee tomorrow.