This week we saw a confusing series of events in which BuzzFeed appeared to confirm that John Bolton had agreed to testify to the House impeachment inquiry, only for Axios to then quickly refute this and assert that Bolton had no intention of testifying. So what was really going on with Bolton? Now we’re getting some answers.
John Bolton’s attorney has publicly stated that Bolton won’t testify “voluntarily,” but that he will “accept” a subpoena if one is issued. Even as this has played out, Bolton’s longtime sidekick Charles Kupperman – who is represented by the same attorney – has gone into court to demand a ruling on whether he should honor his subpoena to testify. We’ve taken this as a sign that Bolton wants to testify, but he wants legal cover beforehand.
Now Robert Costa is reporting on MSNBC this afternoon that, according to sources close to John Bolton, he’s actually waiting to see the results of the current court case about whether former White House Counsel Don McGahn should testify to the House impeachment inquiry.
We’re not sure why John Bolton is using the McGahn case as a benchmark, when his own lawyer is directing the parallel Kupperman case in front of a different judge. Perhaps Bolton is expecting a swifter ruling in the McGahn case. In any case, it’s now clear that Bolton is simply looking for the courts to establish precedent that former Trump White House officials are indeed required to testify.
Interestingly, the House Democrats haven’t yet subpoenaed John Bolton. This suggests that they’re expecting the courts to rule in time for Bolton to conclude on his own that he should testify. Considering the swiftness with which both court cases are progressing, this could end up being the case. Things will get more interesting if the courts get bogged down, and the House simply decides to subpoena Bolton and takes its chances. But we can’t imagine a scenario in which he doesn’t end up testifying before the cameras; it would do wonders for the sales of his upcoming tell-all book.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report