The only way to make sense of Bolton’s behavior is to recognize that he actually did intend and expect to testify. He wanted to testify, but wanted to appear to be forced to do it. Perhaps he thought that, as a reluctant witness, he’d be less open to being caricatured as a disgruntled, discharged adviser, and his credibility would have been enhanced. So he insisted on a court order to appear before the House.
When that didn’t happen, Bolton began virtually begging to testify: He announced before the Senate trial commenced that “if the Senate issues a subpoena for my testimony, I am prepared to testify” without any court order at all. During the trial, perhaps not serendipitously, word leaked about how Bolton’s book would establish a quid pro quo linking Ukraine security assistance to Ukraine helping to smear former vice president Joe Biden — and about how Bolton hoped to testify.
But Bolton made one fateful misjudgment. He overestimated the character, honor and patriotism of Senate Republicans. It would have taken just four, joining with Democrats, for the Senate to have issued a subpoena. But only two voted to hear Bolton testify. A Yale-educated lawyer, Bolton perhaps calculated that Senate Republicans would live up to their oaths of office, and to the separate impeachment-trial oath they took to do “impartial justice.” He assumed they would uphold the Constitution. Sadly, he was wrong.