Yesterday, John Bolton publicly let it be known through the media that his decision on whether to testify to the House impeachment inquiry would be based on the judge’s upcoming ruling on whether Don McGahn must testify. That made it pretty clear that Bolton wasn’t going to voluntarily show up for his scheduled testimony today, and sure enough, he didn’t – though he did reiterate that he’ll testify if the courts say so. So now what?
Actually, nothing has changed. For whatever reason, John Bolton wants to be legally compelled to testify before he does it. Maybe he’s afraid Donald Trump’s corrupt Department of Justice will bring phony criminal charges against him otherwise. Maybe Bolton simply wants to avoid the perception that he’s voluntarily helping the Democrats take down a Republican president. You’d have to ask Bolton what his deal is.
But it does serve to make the whole thing more bizarre. The House didn’t bother to subpoena John Bolton today, after he made clear that he would have taken such a subpoena to court. There’s no reason to create yet another court case from scratch, which would take far longer to be resolved than the existing McGahn court case. And yet even after other NSC people like Fiona Hill and Colonel Vindman were bravely willing to testify voluntarily, Bolton is coming off like a wuss.
That said, while the House can certainly make an overwhelming impeachment case to the public without John Bolton’s help, he would be the single most valuable witness – so it’s worth it for Democrats to play along with his game, to a point. CNN says that Bolton is even willing to testify about his private conversations with Donald Trump once the courts order him to. Bolton clearly wants to testify. He just wants to carry out this bizarre dance first.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report