President Donald Trump’s former White House Chief of Staff is speaking out in favor of calling witnesses at the Trump impeachment trial.
The Herald Tribune reports retired Gen. John Kelly, who served as Trump’s chief of staff for 18 months, spoke in Sarasota, Florida, on Monday, a day after a book draft from former national security adviser John Bolton raised new concerns that Trump abused the power of his office. Bolton writes that Trump told him that he wanted to withhold hundreds of millions of dollars in aid from Ukraine until the country’s president agreed to help him politically with an investigation into Democratic rival Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden.
“If John Bolton says that in the book I believe John Bolton,” Kelly said Monday.
Trump’s legal team has repeatedly denied that the president tied the suspension of nearly $400 million in military assistance to Ukraine to investigations he thought would help him in the upcoming 2020 election. Democrats accuse Trump of releasing the money only after a whistleblower complaint about a phone call where Trump asked the Ukrainian president to “do us a favor, though.”
“I NEVER told John Bolton that the aid to Ukraine was tied to investigations into Democrats, including the Bidens,” Trump wrote on Twitter: “If John Bolton said this, it was only to sell a book.”
Bolton, who plans to publish the book “The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir” on March 17, has said he’s willing to testify if subpoenaed in the Senate trial.
“Every single time I was with him … he always gave the president the unvarnished truth,” Kelly said of Bolton, according to the Herald Tribune.
Trump has been charged with two articles of impeachment, for abusing his presidential power and former obstruction of Congress in its investigation. Several White House officials were ordered not to comply with the House investigation, despite subpoenas.
It’s unclear if the Senate, where Republicans hold a 53-47 majority, will call witnesses in the Trump impeachment trial.
“John Bolton’s relevance to our decision has become increasingly clear,” GOP Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah told reporters, according to The Associated Press.
Sen. Susan Collins of Maine said she has always wanted “the opportunity for witnesses” and the report about Bolton’s book “strengthens the case.”