Note to Nancy Pelosi: Subpoena Bolton


End the Kentucky 1-step and allow the Ukraine “drug deal” to go public!

It’s clear that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s strategy to negotiate with the Senate to establish the rules for the impeachment trial before she releases the House Articles of Impeachment is not going to work. Majority leader Mitch McConnell has the 51 votes to block any pre-trial guidelines, including calling witnesses and introducing documents (AKA “evidence”) that were blocked during the House hearings. For that we need to thank and congratulate the following “seekers of truth, justice and the American way:” Mitt Romney, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Cory Gardner and others – but I digress.

So what’s the obvious next strategic step. Forget about dictating to McConnell and his gang of 51 and stick it to the them by issuing a House subpoena to former National Security Advisor John Bolton and let him tell what he knows, including why he called the Ukraine shakedown a “drug deal.” After all, he’s gone on record saying he would be willing to the testify in the Senate trial. If yes, to the Senate, why not to the House?

John Bolton and Nancy Pelosi

While anyone who’s been with me in the last week or so knows I’ve been arguing this position since Bolton made his offer to testify but I haven’t had the opportunity to write it up. So wouldn’t you know it? David Leonhardt of the Times beat me to the punch today. (In my defense, that’s his job and he gets paid for it. I do this for fun; my compensation is to suffer the slings and arrows of my many loyal readers.)

So, as a courtesy to those loyal readers who don’t read Leonhardt, here’s his column in its entirety. All I can say is “Nancy, please read it, take heed and let Bolton put up or shut up.”

And wouldn’t it be special if he says, “Yes, I’ll testify” and Trump invokes executive privilege? You’d then be able to add another strong point to the Obstruction of Congress article.

Mitch McConnell has showed this week how little leverage Nancy Pelosi has over the Senate impeachment trial. He has the 51 votes to dictate the trial’s terms, he announced Tuesday. And he won’t negotiate with her over those terms, as he said yesterday.

But Pelosi does still have at least one care, and she should play it.

The House Democratic caucus she leads can issue a subpoena for John Bolton, President Trump’s former national security adviser, to testify before the House.

During the House impeachment hearings, Bolton — who appears to have damaging evidence about Trump — indicated that he would not testify voluntarily. This week, however, Bolton seemed to change his position and said that he would honor a Senate subpoena.

t’s possible, obviously, that he did so believing that McConnell would make sure the Senate never issued one. But Bolton’s new position makes it easier for the House to compel him to testify. “By stating that he would testify if the Senate subpoenas him, Bolton has effectively waived any argument against testifying should the House subpoena him,” the legal scholar Heidi Kitrosser told the Washington Post.

Benjamin Wittes of Lawfare called Bolton’s new position “a strategic opening for Pelosi.” As Wittes explained, “A subpoena from the Senate is not, after all, legally different from a subpoena from the House.”

Even though the House has already approved two impeachment articles, there is nothing preventing it from calling a new hearing and then issuing a subpoena to Bolton. If he does appear, House Democrats could choose to amend the articles — or leave them as they are. Either way, Democrats would know that the political case for impeaching and removing Trump had become even stronger than it already is.

Impeachment, as I’ve written before, is an inherently political process. Democrats have little ability to influence Senate Republicans, at least in the short term. But they can and should do everything in their power to influence public opinion, which may well influence the makeup of the Senate and the occupant of the White House in the longer term.

Published by Ted Block

Ted Block is a veteran “Mad Man,” having spent 45+ years in the advertising industry. During his career, he was media director of several advertising agencies, including Benton & Bowles in New York and Foote, Cone and Belding in San Francisco; account management director on clients as varied as Clorox, Levi’s and the California Raisin Advisory Board (yes, Ted was responsible for the California Dancing Raisins campaign); and regional director for Asia based in Tokyo for Foote, Cone where he was also the founding president of FCB’s Japanese operations. Ted holds a Bachelor’s degree in communications from Queens College and, before starting in advertising, served on active duty as an officer on USS McCloy (DE-1038) in the U.S. Navy. Besides writing Around the Block, Ted is also a guest columnist for the Palm Beach Post.

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