GOP senators weren't blindsided by Bolton -- but their impeachment coverup got interrupted: columnist
Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky speaking at the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. (Gage Skidmore)

John Bolton's explosive claims about President Donald Trump's quid pro quo scheme against Ukraine weren't surprising to anyone paying attention during the impeachment inquiry.

That's why Republican senators self-incriminated themselves by complaining they'd been blindsided by a leaked manuscript of the former national security adviser's upcoming book, reported the Washington Post.

"It’s deeply revealing about the true nature of the GOP coverup," wrote the Post's Greg Sargent.

"The real story here is that Senate Republicans knew for months that such explosive revelations from Bolton were a very likely possibility," he added, "and that this is precisely why they have resisted hearing Bolton’s testimony so aggressively."

The New York Times reported in November that Bolton privately urged Trump to release the aid in August, which was corroborated by former National Security Council official Tim Morrison's impeachment testimony.

That's why Democrats wanted to hear from Bolton, who refused to appear before the impeachment inquiry, and that's why the White House has been blocking witnesses and documents from the inquiry and trial.

"A key defense of Trump is that no one who has testified heard him directly link the aid with the investigations," Sargent wrote, "and Trump will not allow testimony from the very people who discussed this matter personally with him."

Senate Republicans knew that, even if they didn't know exactly what Bolton would say, and even if they were unaware that Bolton had given a manuscript of his book to the White House before the impeachment trial.

"What actually blindsided Senate Republicans was that the details of Bolton’s account leaked before they could carry out their preordained vote to acquit," Sargent wrote. "They were blindsided by this terribly inconvenient timing, which upended their coverup."