WASHINGTON (CN) — Democrats blasted Republicans on Tuesday for demanding a closed-door look at the memoir whose incriminating details about President Donald Trump have shaken up the ongoing impeachment trial at the Senate.
“What an absurd proposal! It’s a book. There’s no need for it to be read in the SCIF unless you want to hide something,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, referring to the secure room where members of Congress review classified materials.
The memoir from former Trump national security adviser John Bolton is not set to be released until March, but details of the manuscript, first reported this weekend by The New York Times, have rankled White House attorneys mounting Trump’s defense.
At their press conference Tuesday morning, Democrats said Bolton’s account makes the administration’s blockade on new evidence untenable. The memoir quotes Trump as telling Bolton that he wanted to withhold $400 millions in security aid from Ukraine until it agreed to announce investigations of his political rival Joe Biden.
Schumer said the public needs four Republican senators to vote for witness subpoenas, likening the flow of new information on Ukraine to President Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal.
“There’s been a steady drip, drip, drip of information,” said Schumer, a New York Democrat. “The truth leaking out and one explosive article after another.”
Senators Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and James Lankford, R-Texas, both called for a review of the Bolton manuscript behind closed doors. Graham said the White House currently reviewing the manuscript — a routine procedure ahead of a former staffer publishing a book — suggests the document should remain classified if brought into the impeachment trial.
“I’m just suggesting if it’s in a classified setting now, let’s look at it in that setting,” Graham said.
Republicans in response to the Bolton bombshell dodged questions on whether the former White House adviser is a credible witness, instead raising the rallying cry for Biden’s son Hunter to testify about his former position on the board of the Ukrainian gas company Burisma Holdings.
“I don’t know that the manuscript would make any difference in the outcome of the trial,” said Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri.
Blunt told reporters to wait and see what other GOP members have to say.
Senator Mike Braun, R-Ind., similarly told reporters Monday that the Bolton report could “move the needle” for undecided GOP senators.
Schumer meanwhile warned Republicans on Tuesday not to be complicit in a White House cover-up of the facts.
Referring to Bolton stating publicly that he will testify to the Senate if subpoenaed, Schumer said: “President Trump and Ambassador Bolton said diametrically opposed things. Only one of them is willing to testify under oath. Who do you believe?”