Hot Air

Lindsey Graham: I want to see the Bolton manuscript and I might support a subpoena to get it

This is the last guy who I thought would bend on witnesses in light of last night’s Bolton bombshell, especially when less ardent Trump apologists like John Barrasso and John Thune are out in front of the media this morning stammering, “W-w-what’s the big deal?”

Graham is reportedly pissed. And not (just) at Bolton:

Haberman reported this morning that some Senate Republicans feel “blindsided” by the Times’s scoop, although it’s unclear which part of it blindsided them. The National Security Council, which is reviewing Bolton’s manuscript to make sure that it doesn’t reveal classified information, claims that no one else in the White House has reviewed it. Does Graham think Trump and his lawyers should have been allowed to? Or that, at a minimum, they should have been informed by the NSC what Bolton was alleging about Ukraine so that they could shape their defense accordingly, staying away from the “no quid pro quo” stuff? Why should the NSC feel obliged to do that?

Or does Graham feel blindsided because he *really, truly doubted that there was a quid pro quo* and has now been confronted with claims to the contrary by a person he respects, fellow superhawk John Bolton?

C’mon. There’s no way he sincerely doubted that there was a quid pro quo.

Anyway, Lindsey’s pissed — enough so that he’s momentarily undecided on calling witnesses after spending the past six weeks arguing tirelessly that none should be called.

This quote caught my eye too:

He’d better be careful with his tone. He might end up banished with fellow Trump sycophant Matt Gaetz to the Island of Misfit Toys for having had the nerve to cross POTUS one time in a big spot.

Note Haberman’s point about the coming GOP argument that Bolton can’t be called, no matter how relevant his testimony might be, because the House didn’t call him first. The House could try to call him right now, of course — and some Democrats there apparently want to do so. They’re being opposed, says Mother Jones, by … Adam Schiff?

With the prospect of Bolton appearing as a witness in the trial unresolved—it’s still possible he might not be called—several House Democrats on Monday initiated talks within their caucus about taking the dramatic step of subpoenaing him or once again requesting that he testify before a House committee, according to multiple Democratic sources. Bolton would, under oath, presumably say that Trump informed him at the time that he was leaning on Zelensky by withholding the $391 million in military assistance Ukraine needed for its ongoing war against Russia.

But, according to these same sources, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the chair of the House intelligence committee and the lead House impeachment manager, is not in favor of this, believing that Senate Republicans might somehow use such a move as an argument against calling Bolton as a witness in the impeachment trial. “The onus is clearly on the Senate to call a relevant and willing witness before they vote,” says a Democratic aide working on the impeachment trial.

Several House Democrats raising the idea of calling Bolton to testify in the House note they are sensitive to this, but they say they still intend to raise the matter within the Democratic caucus. They point out that a Bolton appearance in the House—or his refusal to testify—could put pressure on Senate Republicans to call him as a witness in the Senate trial.

I think Schiff’s correct as a strategic matter. At a moment when Senate Republicans are under such intense pressure to call Bolton that even Lindsey Graham has begun to waver, House Dems would be nutty to put the ball back in their own court by trying to call Bolton there. Bolton might not even agree to testify without a court fight in that chamber; the ensuing delay caused by the subpoena would give the Senate an excuse to proceed towards acquittal with the caveat that if the House wants to impeach Trump again later after they hear from Bolton there’s nothing stopping them. (The House will not, in fact, impeach Trump a second time and both parties understand that.) Calling Bolton in the House would also give GOP attack dogs like Jim Jordan, Doug Collins, and Gaetz a chance to tear into him on TV. Dems are better off letting him testify via deposition in a more staid setting like the Senate, with low-key Pat Cipollone asking the questions.

Besides, they can always subpoena Bolton themselves after the trial for a House committee hearing if they want to put on a show with him as the star witness.

A question for you that seemed unlikely 24 hours ago: How many votes *besides* Collins, Murkowski, Romney, and possibly Alexander might the GOP get to call witnesses now? It seems unlikely that they’d get 51 exactly since no one wants to be known as the vote that tipped the balance, knowing how peeved Trump fans would be. Those voting for witnesses want to be able to hide in a crowd. Could Gardner decide to vote for witnesses too? Sasse? Mike Lee?

Here’s a brief trip down memory lane with Graham, from an interview with Axios in October. I wonder if he remembered what he said here when he read the Bolton news last night.

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