US Republicans were reportedly confused and angry over the legal strategy being used by President Donald Trump’s defense team to counter the indictment by the House of Representatives.
The defence argument has built up a position that no firsthand evidence existed, but that was before the leaks from John Bolton’s book showed that he indeed had a first hand knowledge and is ready to testify.
It has even be further revealed that Bolton’s lawyer, Charles J. Cooper, provided a manuscript of Bolton’s forthcoming book to the White House on Dec. 30, weeks before the Senate impeachment trial began.
One Republican operative who advises the White House said he was “flabbergasted at how stupidly they have handled this,” Yahoo News reported on Monday night.
Trump attorney Mike Purpura argued Saturday that “not a single witness testified that the president himself said that there was any connection between any investigations and security assistance, a presidential meeting or anything else.”
Purpura repeated that claim on Monday afternoon, saying that “anyone who spoke to the president” said there was no pressure campaign on Ukraine.
That assertion echoes what the president’s legal team argued in its legal brief filed a week ago: “House Democrats’ claims are built entirely on speculation from witnesses who had no direct knowledge about anything and who never even spoke to the President about this matter.”
The disclosure in the New York Times Sunday night directly contradicts the arguments of the president’s lawyers, who said in their brief that this is “the central fact in this case.” Bolton, Trump’s former security adviser, has written in his forthcoming memoir about having just such a conversation with the president last August.
“This just completely washes away Purpura’s whole argument,” the White House adviser said. “WTF. He misled the Senate.”
The Republican who advises the White House predicted there now may be no way for the White House to prevent Bolton from testifying. The adviser said the cardinal sin by the president’s lawyers was not finding out what was in Bolton’s book and addressing it in their opening remarks on Saturday.
Another Republican operative who speaks regularly with the White House said the upshot of Bolton’s revelations will be to increase momentum toward calls for him to testify.
“I think it pushes at least four GOP senators to vote to call witnesses. They were soft before this little bombshell,” the Republican operative said.
There are 47 Democrats in the Senate. Together with at least four Republicans, they would make up a majority.