Per PBS, Rep. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, asked President Donald Trump’s lawyers why senators should not call former national security adviser John Bolton to testify in the impeachment trial.
Murkowski said in a written request that recent reporting on Bolton’s book suggests that Trump desired a quid pro quo with Ukraine.
The Alaska senator said that the dispute between Bolton’s statements in his upcoming book compared to other officials’ testimony “weighs in favor” of calling witnesses.
Democrats need 4 Republican Senators to vote in favor of witnesses. It seems likely that based on their statements Mitt Romney, Susan Collins, and Lisa Murkowski could be on their side.
The Hill reports Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) asked Thursday why former national security adviser John Bolton should not be called to testify during President Trump’s Senate impeachment trial, noting that conflicting accounts about Trump’s decision to delay U.S. aid to Ukraine “weighs in favor” of hearing from additional witnesses.
Murkowski, who is known for her independent streak, is considered a swing vote whether the Senate will call in witnesses like Bolton. Her question Thursday night, during the second day of a question and answer session, could signal where the senator stands.
“This dispute about material facts weighs in favor of calling additional witnesses with direct knowledge. Why should this body not call Ambassador Bolton,” Murkowski asked in a question poised to the White House defense team.
Murkowski noted in her question that U.S. Ambassador to the E.U. Gordon Sondland and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), an ally of the president, have said Trump did not withhold $391 million in aid to Ukraine as leverage to press Kyiv to open politically beneficial investigations, including one into a 2020 political rival.
She then said that a New York Times report of Bolton’s unpublished manuscript that says the former Trump official was referring to a direct conversation the president about the aid suggests otherwise.
Patrick Philbin, a member of the president’s defense team, argued that the question is one of precedent: The House voted to impeach Trump before it collected all the evidence it wanted to use in the Senate trial.
“The most important consideration, I think, that this chamber has before it…has to do with the precedent that is established here for what kind of impeachment proceeding this body will accept from now going forward,” Philbin said, warning about setting the “new normal” for future presidential impeachment proceedings.
Philbin argued that the House should’ve pursued Bolton’s testimony, saying that putting the onus of calling in witnesses onto the upper chamber will do grave damage to the Senate as an institution.