‘Bolton has no excuse anymore’: Conservative columnist explains why the ex-Trump aide must testify in Senate trial
Although former National Security Adviser John Bolton didn’t testify during the recent House impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump, Democrats are still hoping that Bolton will testify during Trump’s impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate. And conservative Washington Post opinion writer Jennifer Rubin, following a federal judge’s rejection of “absolute immunity” claims by a former Trump security official, asserts in her column that Bolton no longer has any excuse not to testify.
The ex-security official that Rubin is referring to is former Deputy National Security Adviser Charles Kupperman. Echoing Trump’s “absolutely immunity” claims, Kupperman asserted in a lawsuit that he didn’t have to obey a subpoena from the House Judiciary Committee (which withdrew the subpoena). Judge Richard J. Leon, on Monday, ordered the case dismissed.
Rubin notes, “That leaves a ruling by Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, rejecting in scathing terms a similar claim of ‘absolute immunity’ in a case involving former White House Counsel Donald McGahn as the final word, for now, on current and former executive branch employees’ testimony.”
Trump has ordered past and present members of his administration to defy, on grounds of “absolute immunity,” subpoenas from House Democrats. And Bolton has indicated that while he was open to the possibility of testifying, he wanted to see what the federal courts had to say about the legitimacy of Trump’s “absolute immunity” claims.
“Former National Security Adviser John Bolton, who shares a lawyer with Kupperman, had previously stated that he would rely on the outcome of the Kupperman case to decide whether to testify,” Rubin explains. “Bolton claims he wants to testify but needs direction from the courts, unlike his subordinates who performed their civic responsibility by responding to a legally sufficient subpoena.”
Bolton, Rubin writes, now has the direction from the federal courts that he said he needed — and he should go ahead and testify.
“Bolton can no longer rely on the Kupperman case, and the relevant precedent is now the McGahn case,” Rubin writes. “What then is his excuse to remain silent, other than a lucrative book deal? As former Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal, appearing on ‘The Beat’ with Ari Melber on MSNBC on Monday night, argued, ‘The bottom line is that John Bolton now has no rock to hide behind anymore, and that he really should testify.’”
Former federal prosecutor Mimi Rocah, who often appears as a legal analyst on MSNBC, shares Katyal’s view. Rubin quotes Rocah as saying, “Bolton has no excuse anymore. The standing case law says testify. Wanting to sell a book says testify. Doing the right thing for the good of your country says testify.”
Another former federal prosecutor and frequent MSNBC contributor who is asserting that Bolton needs to testify is Joyce White Vance, who now teaches law at the University of Alabama. Interviewed by Rubin for her column, Vance stressed, “Bolton doesn’t have any legally cognizable privilege to assert and should testify. We can confirm this with common sense: someone close to the president who has said he has information and who we now know was involved in counseling the president against the course of conduct he took in Ukraine must certainly testify if we’re going to learn the truth.”
Vance went on to tell Rubin, “If Bolton and other witnesses with information relevant to Trump’s conduct in Ukraine don’t testify, the Senate trial will be nothing more than a fancy coverup.”
Rubin wraps up her column, which was published on the last day of 2019, by stressing that testimony in an impeachment trial is Bolton’s patriotic duty.
“In sum, it is time for the House to press forward, for the Senate to do its job and for key witnesses to behave honorably,” Rubin writes. “The judgment of history — not to mention the voters in 2020 — will be harsh if they fail to end Trump’s cover-up.”