On Sunday, The New York Times reported, without any direct citations, that former National Security Adviser John Bolton claimed in his upcoming memoir that President Donald Trump had explicitly tied the temporarily withheld aid to Ukraine to certain investigations he had requested.
The report appears conveniently timed to bolster the Democrats’ argument that Bolton should be subpoenaed to testify in the impeachment trial, and Fox News host Chris Wallace played right into that narrative by suggesting that Trump’s supporters were “spinning like crazy” to downplay its significance.
Wallace accuses Republicans of “spinning” Bolton story
“If you want a sense of how big the news is that we’ve heard in the last 12 or 14 hours, just listen to the Trump supporters — frankly, like Congressman Lee Zeldin and others — spinning like crazy,” Wallace said on Monday. “You get a sense that this is really an important development in this case.”
He referenced remarks earlier in the day from Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY), who told the Fox anchors that President Trump should still be acquitted, that the impeachment trial never should have even been held, and that Bolton’s alleged claims didn’t “change the dynamic.”
President Trump strongly denied the allegations attributed to Bolton’s yet-to-be-released book and a pertinent question has been raised about the timing of the Times report and whether it was intended to boost Bolton’s book sales.
Not so quick trial
To set the “context” of the current situation, Wallace said, “It appeared that the drive to call witnesses in the Senate had basically petered out, it wasn’t gonna happen.” He noted that once the president’s defense team concluded their opening arguments and the senators had 16 hours to ask questions, a likely failed vote would be held on whether to call witnesses and then the president would be acquitted.
“There was a lot of talk that this trial was gonna be over by Friday,” Wallace said. “That may still happen, but it seems to me that it’s much, much less likely because the main argument that the defense has made is that there is no firsthand evidence that the president specifically conditioned support for Ukraine on political investigations of the Democrats and of Joe Biden.”
However, Wallace noted that, at least according to the New York Times report, it now appears that there is a firsthand account from Bolton that Trump had specifically tied the Ukraine aid to the requested investigations.
Forcing acquiesence from Republicans
“It seems to me that it’s going to be awfully hard for those Republican senators in the middle, maybe even some more senators than that, to now vote against witnesses,” Wallace said.
He also added that he suspected there were plenty of Senate Republicans who were “furious” that the White House hadn’t given them any “heads up” on what was in Bolton’s manuscript — which the White House National Security Council had been reviewing to ensure it didn’t include any classified information — since the Times story potentially put them in a tough spot.
All this in mind, Chris Wallace has long made it clear that he supports the effort to remove President Trump from office.
Hearing Wallace argue that the Times’ Bolton report makes it imperative that witnesses be called and the impeachment trial extended interminably is simply par for the course.