GOP Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) said on Monday that a bombshell New York Times report on former national security adviser John Bolton’s upcoming book strengthens the case for witnesses to participate in the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump and has prompted behind-the-scenes talks among senators.
“The reports about John Bolton’s book strengthen the case for witnesses and have prompted a number of conversations among my colleagues,” Collins said in a statement after signaling last week that she is open to supporting witnesses, as she did in former President Bill Clinton’s 1999 trial.
According to the Times, Bolton claims in his book that the president told him in August that he wanted to continue freezing $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine until officials there helped with investigations into Democrats including former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.
Multiple sources familiar with Bolton’s unpublished manuscript told The Times that he writes that President Trump personally told him that $391 million in aid to Ukraine should be frozen until Ukrainian officials announced the investigations, including one into the Democratic National Committee.
Collins’s statement came shortly after Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) told reporters that he thought it was “increasingly likely” that additional GOP senators will support calling Bolton.
“It’s pretty fair to say John Bolton has relevant testimony,” Romney told reporters. “I think it’s increasingly likely that other Republicans will join those of us who think we should hear from John Bolton.”
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) has also signaled she is open to witnesses but is waiting to make a decision until after the initial phase of the trial. She has not weighed in on the Times report.
Every GOP senator, including Collins, voted against an effort to subpoena Bolton as part of the rules resolution that passed last week.