Report: White House Mulls Classifying Bolton’s Testimony In Order To Conceal It
President Trump’s legal team and GOP senators are planning contingency plans if Democrats are able to win enough votes to force witnesses to testify in the impeachment trial, one of which would keep former national security adviser John Bolton from public view, according to The Washington Post.
A senior administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that one of the options being discussed would be to move Bolton’s testimony to a classified setting because of “national security concerns.”
To receive the testimony in a classified session, Trump’s attorneys would need to request it, and it would then need to approval of 51 senators. This is seen as a final tool against Bolton becoming an explosive figure in the trial.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released an organizing resolution on Monday that would allow either the president’s defense team or the House impeachment managers to subpoena witnesses if the Senate agrees, but any witnesses would first have to be deposed. “No testimony shall be admissible in the Senate unless the parties have had an opportunity to depose such witnesses,” the resolution says.
Blocking witnesses such as Bolton -- or shielding their testimony from public view -- could carry political risks for Republicans. Bolton has said he would testify if subpoenaed by the Senate.
“Democrats will ask, ‘Don’t the American people deserve to know the truth?’” said William A. Glaston, a senior fellow in governance at the Brookings Institution. “On the other hand, [Republicans] may well calculate that public testimony would create uncertainties that they’re willing to go to considerable lengths to avoid.”
According to people close to the Senate GOP, McConnell is expected to ensure that individuals are questioned in a closed-door session rather than in a public setting if enough senators vote to call witnesses after the initial arguments by House Democratic managers and Trump’s team.
A group of swing Republicans -- Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Mitt Romney (Utah), and Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) -- could potentially side with Democrats.