As of Monday morning, Republican senators have made no direct comments yet about the bombshell New York Times report revealing former National Security Adviser John Bolton’s allegation that President Donald Trump directly told him he had tied military aid for Ukraine to a public announcement of an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden’s family.
However, according to Times reporter Maggie Haberman, some Republicans are privately angry with the White House for boxing them into a political corner, with some demanding to know what they knew and when about the manuscript Bolton was going to release:
Per sources, some GOP senators privately pushing White House for information on who at administration had visibility into the manuscript over the last month. Senators feel blindsided.
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) January 27, 2020
The problem Republicans face now is that they, and the president’s attorneys, have both pushed the talking point that Democrats’ call for new witnesses is pointless because none of the witnesses are claiming direct knowledge of any corrupt motives behind the Trump administration’s decision to withhold the aid. Now that Bolton is revealing he did, in fact, have this knowledge, it obliterates the major justification Republicans hung their hat on to skip hearing from witnesses and summarily dismiss the trial, and it will be considerably harder to hold together the votes in their caucus to do so.
As Haberman already reported, lawyers for Bolton transmitted the manuscript to the White House a month ago. So if the Trump administration had any suspicion that these facts were going to emerge, then it would mean they intentionally risked putting Senate Republicans in this situation. And they know it.