WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Week two of the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump started off with a bang, with the president’s defense team working in the shadow of a report from The New York Times renewing calls for new witnesses.
“This is stunning,” Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, said of the report at a Monday press conference.
According to The New York Times report, former national security adviser John Bolton wrote in an unreleased book that Trump told Bolton outright that he withheld military aid funding from Ukraine in an effort to dig up political dirt about political opponent Joe Biden and Biden’s family.
“Ambassador Bolton essentially confirms the president committed the offenses charged in the first article,” Schumer said.
In a tweet, the president denied ever telling Bolton he was withholding aid to get information about Democrats or the Bidens.
Regardless, Democrats want to hear from Bolton at the trial and they are calling on Republicans to break ranks and vote to allow new witnesses and evidence.
“It’s gut-check time for the members of the United States Senate,” Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc., said. “Call John Bolton as a witness.”
“There’s just no possible reason he should not testify,” Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said.
Republican moderates like Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah and Susan Collins of Maine agree.
“It’s relevant and therefore I’d like to hear it,” Romney said.
But other Republicans are brushing the report aside, with Sen. Mike Braun of Indiana calling it a “book promo.”
“I think what it’s done is taken an already hot topic and added some fuel to the fire,” he said, adding he trusts the president.
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, called it pure speculation.
“It doesn’t change the underlying facts,” he said.
A vote on allowing new witnesses could come by the end of the week.
The president’s defense team didn’t address Bolton’s accounts during their arguments before the Senate Monday.