Former national security adviser John Bolton is adding fresh uncertainty to President Trump’s impeachment trial.
Bolton’s accusation, made in a forthcoming memoir, that Trump tied $391 million in aid to Ukraine to the country helping with investigations into Democrats — including former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden — ricocheted across the Capitol.
Democrats quickly characterized the allegation as a “thunderbolt,” a “bombshell” and “gut check time” for Republicans, arguing that it underscored the need for additional witnesses and documents.
Republicans, caught flat-footed, struggled to get on the same page, as some GOP lawmakers indicated Bolton’s allegation strengthened the need for witnesses, while others argued the memoir offered nothing that would change the outcome of the impeachment trial.
Asked if GOP senators had been in touch with the White House, Senate Republican Whip John Thune (S.D.) told reporters that “my impression is that this sort of caught everybody by surprise.”
“Maybe you guys did because you’re writing the stories, but, no, we did not know it was coming,” he added.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), facing a flurry of Bolton questions, acknowledged that he had no idea how portions of the manuscript were leaked.
“I have no idea how this happened. I don’t know who leaked this. They say they didn’t do it,” he added.