John Bolton defended his decision not to testify before Congress in the impeachment proceedings against President Trump, blaming the Democrats for conducting a flawed House investigation.
The former White House national security adviser stressed to ABC News’s Martha Raddatz that the impeachment effort, which was mainly focused on whether Trump improperly sought help from Ukraine to aid his chances of winning the 2020 election, was too narrowly focused and far too rushed.
“I was fully prepared — if I got a subpoena like everybody else who testified got a subpoena,” he said in the interview that aired Sunday night. “I think the way the House advocates of impeachment proceeded was badly wrong. I think it was impeachment malpractice. I think they were determined because of their own political objectives to conduct an impeachment proceeding that was very narrowly focused on Ukraine, and that went very, very quickly. Because they didn’t wanna mess up the Democratic presidential nomination. Now, I find that conduct almost as bad and somewhat equivalent to Trump.”
Bolton, a lifelong Republican, was invited by the House to testify last year. He refused and was never issued a subpoena by the lower chamber. He said he was prepared to testify if the Senate chose to subpoena him, but they never did.
Bolton faulted Democrats for wanting to “keep it narrow, and move it fast.” He added: “I think the House Democrats built a cliff, they threw themselves off of it, and halfway down, they looked up and saw me and said, ‘Hey, why don’t you come along?’”
The discussion with Raddatz was Bolton’s first TV interview tied to the release of his memoir, The Room Where it Happened, which is due out next week.
Democrats, including House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who was the lead impeachment manager in the Senate trial, have criticized Bolton, accusing him of eschewing duty to his country by not testifying in favor of selling books.
More than four months after the Republican-led Senate acquitted Trump on two charges, Bolton told Raddatz that Trump directly linked “directly linked the provision of that [security] assistance with the investigation” into former Vice President Joe Biden, Trump’s main 2020 rival, and his son Hunter Biden. In his book, Bolton makes other alarming charges against Trump, including that the president asked China for election assistance for the 2020 contest.
But it may be too little too late for there to be much action in Congress in the middle of an election year. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler told CNN on Sunday: “We’re not interested in Bolton’s testimony.”
Bolton seemed unaffected by complaints of his timing, stressing that it likely wouldn’t have made a difference.
“Minds were made up on Capitol Hill. And my feeling was in the midst of all the chaos that had been created, this would have come and gone, and nobody would have paid any attention to it. My view is when you take the extraordinary step of removing a president from office, you have to do it in a serious way. The only way to win an impeachment would have been to get Republicans to go along. And the Democrats abandoned that idea almost before they got started,” he said.
At one point, Raddatz asked him if what Trump had done amounted to high crimes and misdemeanors. Bolton answered, “I think the example of Ukraine could well amount to it.”
Bolton reasoned that now, months before the presidential election, is the ideal time to come out with his story and let voters decide Trump’s fate.
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