As the world waits to see whether the conflict with Iran will explode into a full-blown global war after Donald Trump’s decision to flout both U.S. and international law by ordering the assassination of Iranian General Qassim Suleimani, one of the most noted advocates of a hard-line policy towards the Shiite-Islamic nation has made an announcement only partially related to the current foreign crisis.
Former National Security Director John Bolton announced this morning — after refusing to testify in the House of Representatives’ investigation of Trump’s Ukraine extortion plot until a judge ruled on questions of executive privilege involved — that he would be prepared to testify if he is subpoenaed for the Senate impeachment trial.
Bolton posted a tweet linking to the website of his political action committee which included his full statement on the issue.
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I have posted a brief statement regarding testimony on the Ukraine impeachment matter before the Senate at: https://t.co/Q3TwI2BzBp
— John Bolton (@AmbJohnBolton) January 6, 2020
In his statement, Bolton explains that he would have been willing to abide by the judicial decision made in the case of Dr. Charles Kupperman, another Trump administration official who had been subpoenaed by the House Committees investigating the president’s action and been prohibited from testifying by the White House in competing views of constitutional authority that were to be resolved by the courts.
After the House withdrew its subpoena for Dr. Kupperman, the legal case became moot and thus the separation of powers issues at hand were never decided, leaving Bolton without the guidance — or cover, as some may view it — he sought before providing his testimony about what he saw and heard in meetings regarding the scheme to withhold military aid from Ukraine until they agreed to open an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter’s involvement with a gas company in that nation.
In lieu of a definitive judicial opinion on the matter, Bolton had to make his own mind up as to how he would handle any potential requests for his testimony if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) concedes and allows the Senate impeachment trial to proceed with the full inclusion of witnesses from both sides.
Bolton’s statement explained little about how he reached his decision to testify if subpoenaed.
“Accordingly, since my testimony is once again at issue, I have had to resolve the serious competing issues as best I could, based on careful consideration and study. I have concluded that, if the Senate issues a subpoena for my testimony, I am prepared to testify,” the former National Security Director wrote.
The timing of Bolton’s announcement is interesting, coming right after the president finally took the kind of militaristic response to Iran that Bolton had reportedly been advocating for throughout his tenure in the Trump White House.
Speculation over Bolton’s motives in defying the presidential ban on his executive branch aides, both current and former, from testifying in front of a Congress that Trump has repeatedly denied possessing any legitimate constitutional authority over his behavior is sure to be rampant.
There is no doubt that Bolton approved of Trump’s decision to murder Iran’s Revolutionary Guards leader, General Suleimani, as his earlier tweets indicated.
Congratulations to all involved in eliminating Qassem Soleimani. Long in the making, this was a decisive blow against Iran's malign Quds Force activities worldwide. Hope this is the first step to regime change in Tehran.
— John Bolton (@AmbJohnBolton) January 3, 2020
Another good day. Iran rips the mask off the idea it ever fully complied with the nuclear deal, or that it made a strategic decision to forswear nuclear weapons. Now, it's on to the real job: effectively preventing the ayatollahs from getting such a capability.
— John Bolton (@AmbJohnBolton) January 5, 2020
Whether the fact that Trump finally followed the advice that Bolton had long been advocating affected his motivations in deciding to testify — as well as what the contents of his testimony may contain — remains to be seen.
However, as a fact witness to many of the internal discussions within the administration regarding the withholding of Ukraine military aid, Bolton has much to disclose, including confirmation of much of the damning revelations by his former aide Fiona Hill about the commingling of domestic political goals with foreign policy issues by the Trump team.
Of course, Bolton’s newly announced willingness to testify will be as moot as Dr. Kupperman’s suit to determine the legality of unlimited executive privilege if Senator McConnell fails to ensure a fair and full Senate trial including the calling of witnesses.
That’s why the pressure on the Republica Senate caucus to make sure that McConnel doesn’t try to sweep the entire impeachment inquiry under the rug in a partisan soft coup is so important to continue at this point in the process.
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