Appearing on CNN’s “New Day,” in the wake of the New York Times bombshell revelation that former national security adviser John Bolton book blows up the central impeachment defense put forward by Donald Trump’s lawyers, former White House press secretary Joe Lockhart said it may not be enough to persuade Senate Republicans to allow witnesses.
According to the Times, “President Trump directly tied the withholding of almost $400 million in American security aid to investigations that he sought from Ukrainian officials, according to an unpublished manuscript of a book that John R. Bolton, Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, wrote about his time in the White House. The firsthand account of the link between the aid and investigations, which is based on meetings and conversations Mr. Bolton had with Mr. Trump, undercuts a key component of the president’s impeachment defense.”
Speaking with hosts Alisyn Camerota and John Berman, Lockhart said he was skeptical GOP lawmakers would change course now that they have gone this far in defending the president.
“It’s obviously more likely that there will be witnesses, but that’s only because of as of Sunday afternoon, there was no chance there were going to be witnesses, ” Lockhart explained. “I think Republicans were clearly signaling it all day Sunday that they had won this fight and they were willing to swallow the whatever bad press they’d get.”
“I still don’t know that it makes it extremely likely,” he cautioned. “Remember, the president’s defense, you say at the heart of the president’s defense, the president’s defense has changed a dozen times. This is just the most recent one. It does go to the heart of whether this is first-hand information. But I think most Republicans, probably the four that we have been concentrating on have made up their mind they just want this over and they’re willing to take a short-term hit.”
“We’ll see,” he added. “We’re going to see from the White House defense today, you know, whether they now bury this defense. We’re going to see it in the hallways.”