Chief among the witnesses Democrats want to hear from in the Senate’s impeachment trial is former National Security Adviser John Bolton, who Democrats believe can provide invaluable insight into the allegations of wrongdoing they’ve lodged against President Donald Trump regarding Ukraine.
But even if Bolton was called to testify, actually appeared, and wasn’t barred from speaking by a claim of executive privilege, it’s hard to see how Dems could possibly accept Bolton’s testimony — especially since lead House impeachment manager Adam Schiff (D-CA) is on record saying that Bolton suffers from a “lack of credibility” and a “love of conspiracy theories.”
“A bad choice”
The development comes by way of resurfaced videos that were shared by Fox News earlier this week. One such clip dating back to March 2018 shows Schiff slamming Bolton as unfit to serve in the role of National Security adviser.
“I think Bolton is not only a bad choice, it’s honestly difficult to consider a worse choice,” Schiff tells MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow in the video. “This is someone who’s likely to exaggerate the dangerous impulses of the president toward belligerence, his proclivity to act without thinking, and his love of conspiracy theories.
“John Bolton once suggested on Fox News that the Russian hack of the [Democratic National Committee] was a false flag operation that had been conducted by the Obama administration,” Schiff added. “So you add that kind of thinking to [former U.S. attorney] Joe diGenova, and you have another big dose of unreality in the White House.”
But Schiff’s distrust of Bolton actually dates back much further than the Trump administration; according to Fox, Schiff appeared on CNN’s Crossfire in 2005 to argue against Bolton’s nomination as ambassador to the United Nations by then-President George W. Bush, citing his historical “lack of credibility.”
Schiff said Bolton had been “AWOL” on “nuclear terrorism” and instead was “more focused on the next job than doing well” in his current one, Fox reported. “Why we would want someone with that lack of credibility, I can’t understand,” Schiff added.
Though Democrats have been wanting to hear from Bolton for some time, their demands have grown more strident in the wake of a recent anonymously-sourced New York Times article that claimed Bolton’s upcoming book, set to be released this March, includes an assertion that President Trump explicitly linked military aid withheld from Ukraine to investigations into possible corruption involving former Vice President Joe Biden.
For Democrats to accept Bolton as a credible witness who will deliver nothing but the truth to the Senate, however, they would have to set aside Schiff’s own statements specifically decrying Bolton for a “lack of credibility,” for being prone to exaggeration, and for following alleged “conspiracy theories.”
They would also have to avert their gaze from Bolton’s own open admission in the past that he — like most other diplomats and politicians — would have no problem telling a lie if he believed such falsehoods would serve a greater good. “If I had to say something I knew was false to protect American national security, I would do it,” Bolton said in a 2010 interview on Fox Business.
Given all of that, it is nothing short of baffling that Democrats are now holding Bolton up as some sort of paragon of truth. But if Senate Republicans succeed in blocking additional witness testimony later this week, it may not matter anyway.