House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff suggested on Sunday that former national security adviser John Bolton may soon testify before his panel – and that a fresh new round of impeachment proceedings may result from the memoir.
Schiff, D-Calif., made the remarks as Bolton, appearing on a separate talk show, charged that the Schiff-lead impeachment proceedings earlier this year were “too politicized” to bother with.
The back-and-forth came days after a federal judge determined that Bolton’s decision to publish his upcoming tell-all memoir on the Trump administration had “exposed his country to harm and himself to civil (and potentially criminal) liability,” and that Bolton had “likely jeopardized national security by disclosing classified information in violation of his nondisclosure agreement obligations.”
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Schiff said on NBC News’ “Meet the Press” that although he hasn’t read Bolton’s book, “The Room Where It Happened,” his committee would be looking in coming days at having Bolton testify.
“If you don’t act now, and you sort of wait to act and you wait to see what happens in November, is that too late?” NBC News anchor Chuck Todd asked. “If you believe he has done impeachable acts with the Chinese government, can you really wait until after the election to put Bolton under oath, to start the process?”
“I don’t think we should wait, if we conclude that there are important things he says that needs to be exposed to the public,” Schiff responded. Specifically, Schiff asserted that “those comments that the president made when only the interpreter and President Xi [Jinping] was in the room, blessing the concentration camps of the Uighurs, it’s exactly why we want to know what he said to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin when he’s alone in the room with Putin.”
That was a reference to a paragraph in Bolton’s book, which White House officials call a fabrication: “At the opening dinner of the Osaka G20 meeting, with only interpreters present, Xi explained to Trump why he was basically building concentration camps in Xinjiang. According to our interpreter, Trump said that Xi should go ahead with building the camps, which he thought was exactly the right thing to do. [The National Security Council’s top Asia staffer Matthew] Pottinger told me Trump said something very similar during the 2017 trip to China, which meant we could cross repression of the Uighurs off our list of possible reasons to sanction China, at least as long as trade negotiations continued.”
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Schiff told Todd that the country is again in imminent danger. Just months ago, Schiff similarly warned that unless Trump were removed from office, Russians might invade the U.S. mainland.
“Exposure of this president’s conduct is the best way to protect this country,” Schiff said, adding that the president was “dealing away national security … in order to help himself.”
As Schiff spoke, though, ABC News’ “This Week” aired a portion of its exclusive interview with Bolton, who outlined why he didn’t want to appear before Schiff-led proceedings.
“He didn’t want to be a part of the impeachment hearing” because “he thought it was too politicized and he wouldn’t make a difference … I pushed back on him several times,” ABC News’ Martha Raddatz said Sunday of his interview with Bolton.
Raddatz also aired a portion of her interview with Bolton, in which he declares that the president isn’t “fit for office” and doesn’t have the “competence to carry out the job.” The only guiding principle was “what’s good for Donald Trump’s election,” Bolton claimed.
Schiff and Bolton have previously exchanged words, indirectly, in recent days and months. As excerpts of Bolton’s book began leaking last week, Schiff slammed Bolton in no uncertain terms.
“Bolton’s staff were asked to testify before the House to Trump’s abuses, and did,” Schiff tweeted. “They had a lot to lose and showed real courage. When Bolton was asked, he refused, and said he’d sue if subpoenaed. Instead, he saved it for a book. Bolton may be an author, but he’s no patriot.”
Democrats were upset with Bolton during the impeachment proceedings, as well, saying he had even declined to produce an affidavit in the Senate trial for unclear reasons. Republicans pointed out that Democrats dropped their bid to compel testimony from Bolton, seemingly to push the proceedings along for political reasons – an assessment that Bolton affirms in his book.
From the “very outset of the proceedings in the House of Representatives,” Bolton writes in the book, “advocates for impeaching Trump on the Ukraine issue were committing impeachment malpractice. They seemed governed more by their own political imperatives to move swiftly to vote on articles of impeachment in order to avoid interfering with the Democratic presidential nomination schedule than in completing a comprehensive investigation.”
Had the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives not focused “solely” on Ukraine, Bolton wrote, they could have probed “the broader pattern of [Trump’s] behavior.”
For his part, Trump lashed out at Bolton in an exclusive interview on “Hannity” on Wednesday night, saying Bolton “broke the law” by writing a forthcoming book about his time in the Trump administration.
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“He was a washed-up guy,” Trump told host Sean Hannity, referring to Bolton. “He couldn’t get Senate-confirmed. So I gave him a non-Senate-confirmed position. I could just put him there, see how we worked. And I wasn’t very enamored.”
Hannity had asked Trump to respond to a claim in “The Room Where it Happened,” that the president asked Xi for assistance with Trump’s reelection campaign during the G-20 summit in June 2019.
“Well, first of all,” Trump responded, “nobody has been tougher on Russia or China than I have. Nobody even close. China’s paying us billions of dollars a year. They never gave us 10 cents [before], and [Joe] Biden’s son walked away with a billion and a half dollars to manage, making hundreds of thousands and millions of dollars on it.
Trump rival Joe Biden, meanwhile, tweeted that “if John Bolton’s accounts are true … it’s not only morally repugnant, it’s a violation of Donald Trump’s sacred duty to the American people to protect America’s interests and defend our values.”
Biden charged that Trump “sold out the American people to protect his political future.”
However, Biden hasn’t always had a positive view of Bolton’s credibility; videos resurfaced on social media Wednesday showing Biden seemingly slamming Bolton as a liar.
“Well, I don’t want my lawyer and I don’t want any lawyer saying something to help my case by lying, deliberately lying about my opponent,” Biden says in one clip.
Then-Sen. Barack Obama, in 2005, echoed those arguments, calling Bolton “damaged goods” whose appointment as ambassador means “we will have less credibility and ironically be less equipped to reform the United Nations in the way that it needs to be reformed.”
Bolton himself had admitted in the past that he would be more than willing to lie if he felt it was in the nation’s best interest.
“If I had to say something I knew was false to protect American national security, I would do it,” Bolton said in an interview with Fox Business in 2010.