As the Times reported, Bolton’s book will recount that Trump told Bolton he didn’t want to release military aid to Ukraine until he got the sham investigation into Joe Biden he was demanding.
You can watch Sekulow’s response here:
Let’s run through Sekulow’s claims. First he said this:
You cannot impeach a president on an unsourced allegation.
It’s true that the Times article is murkily sourced. But you know what wouldn’t be an “unsourced allegation?” Testimony from Bolton to the Senate!
Here’s the conundrum for Trump’s legal team: His side wants to argue that the revelations from Bolton (via the Times) are irrelevant to the trial, due to their uncertain sourcing, and then to also argue that this is why there is no need for the Senate to consider them.
But Republican senators have now let the truth escape that Bolton’s testimony actually is relevant to the trial. Mitt Romney (Utah) and Susan Collins (Maine) have conceded this.
And so have Trump’s own allies. Here, for instance, is Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.):
This is, of course, a ruse: The game here is for GOP senators to read what Bolton has to say in secret, which would then permit them to say that there’s no need to hear from him, based on what they read. That way, the public wouldn’t hear directly from Bolton until publication of his book — that is, until after GOP senators cast their preordained vote for acquittal, making that vote politically easier for them.
But that aside, even allies of the president have now conceded, albeit in a corrupt manner, that Bolton’s testimony is not irrelevant to the trial after all. Now that this has been established, whenever Trump’s legal team claims that the sourcing renders the revelations invalid or inadmissible, it actually strengthens the case to hear from Bolton directly.
Sekulow also said this:
Here’s what the president said in response to that New York Times piece: “I never told John Bolton that the aid to Ukraine was tied to investigations into Democrats, including the Bidens. In fact, he never complained of this at the time of his very public termination. If John Bolton said this, it was only to sell a book.”
That’s a recitation of Trump’s tweeted response to Bolton. This is also silly: It’s irrelevant that Bolton never complained about this when Trump fired him. We already know, from reporting and witness testimony, that Bolton privately objected to Trump’s freezing of the aid, and thus that Bolton can tell us what transpired in that conversation.
Thus, by citing Trump’s own statement as to what happened in a conversation whose contents are disputed, Sekulow again made the case to hear from the other party in that conversation: Bolton.
Sekulow also read aloud from a statement from Marc Short, the chief of staff to Vice President Pence, in which Short claimed that in all his conversations with Trump, the president consistently expressed frustration with Ukrainian corruption.
“At no time did I hear him tie Ukraine aid to investigations into the Biden family or Burisma,” Short said in the statement, as read aloud by Sekulow.
This is also irrelevant, because we know Trump actually did demand that Ukraine announce a sham investigation into Joe and Hunter Biden. Trump did this on his call with the Ukrainian president, and his ringleaders Rudolph Giuliani and Gordon Sondland pressed for that statement.
But that aside, in reading all of this, Sekulow was entering outside evidence contesting Bolton’s testimony into the impeachment trial record — even as Senate Republicans, acting on Trump’s behalf, continue to refuse to hear directly from Bolton himself.
It isn’t surprising, of course, that Trump’s team is now literally arguing that we don’t need to hear from Bolton on the grounds that Trump has offered the last word on what actually happened in their conversation. That’s tantamount to saying we don’t need to hear new witnesses and evidence because the truth is what Trump says it is, which is now Trumpian dogma.
Nor is it surprising that Trump’s team is actually arguing that only he himself, and whatever witnesses he is prepared to allow, should be heard from at Trump’s trial. After all, this is what Trump actually meant when he demanded that the trial be “fair” to him.
But what we’re seeing continues to strengthen the case for opening up the trial to new information.
It’s an utterly outrageous perversion of the process. And no one should sugarcoat how absurdly corrupt and vile the actual position of Trump and Senate Republicans has truly become. And even if they get away with it, the voters will still have their say.