Former national security adviser John Bolton has had a tense relationship with the White House, particularly since he left last September. Donald Trump announced he had fired Bolton—Bolton shot back that he'd actually quit.
Regardless of how Bolton left the Trump administration, he remains a headache for the president. Bolton wrote a memoir titled The Room Where It Happened, and multiple unnamed sources who have seen drafts told The New York Times that in August 2019, according to the book, Trump reportedly told Bolton "that he wanted to continue freezing $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine until officials there helped with investigations into Democrats including the Bidens." This account undermines Trump's entire impeachment defense. The president has repeatedly maintained that he did nothing wrong, despite releasing call notes that clearly show he pressured the Ukrainian president for political favors in exchange for military aid.
The draft allegedly leaked after Bolton submitted it to the White House for review, a standard procedure to make sure that the text doesn't reveal information that could be a national security concern. In a statement to NPR, Bolton's lawyer wrote, "It is clear, regrettably, from The New York Times article published today that the prepublication review process has been corrupted and that information has been disclosed by persons other than those properly involved in reviewing the manuscript."
Trump, meanwhile, denies that the exchange ever took place. On Monday, he tweeted, "I NEVER told John Bolton that the aid to Ukraine was tied to investigations into Democrats, including the Bidens. In fact, he never complained about this at the time of his very public termination. If John Bolton said this, it was only to sell a book."
Since Trump took office, there's been a high demand for political memoirs. Hillary Clinton's What Happened sold 300,000 copies in its first week, and former FBI director James Comey's A Higher Loyalty sold 600,000 copies in the same amount of time, both appealing to mostly liberal readers. The title of Bolton's book, taken from a song in the musical Hamilton, suggests he may be angling for the same audience.
The leak may have a bigger impact on the Senate's impeachment trial, though. So far the Republican-controlled chamber has refused to call any witnesses, with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell saying he hopes for a speedy trial. On Monday, however, Utah senator Mitt Romney said it is "increasingly likely" more Republicans will join him in calling for witnesses. Maine senator Susan Collins also released a statement saying the reports about Bolton's book "strengthen the case for witnesses and have prompted a number of conversations among my colleagues."
Four Republicans would have to join all Democrat and independent senators for the Senate to call in witnesses. It's an open question whether Romney or Collins have the clout to get other Republicans on board, to say nothing about if they actually follow through themselves. But even Trump's allies in the Senate seem to be reassessing their arguments against calling witnesses. Speaking on Fox News on Sunday morning, a day before the Times reported on the leak of Bolton's draft, South Carolina senator and staunch Trump supporter Lindsey Graham said, "If we seek witnesses, then we'll throw the country into chaos." On Monday, he revised that position, arguing on Twitter that if Democrats do inevitably get to call witnesses, then the president should be allowed to do the same.
Bolton has said that he's willing to testify to the Senate. He previously refused to appear before the House during the first phase of impeachment hearings.
Charging the Secret Service for golf carts, threatening the National Weather Service, and every other way the 45th president has turned the highest office in the land into one crooked cesspool.
Originally Appeared on GQ