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Collins, King Say Reported Bolton Revelations Bolster Case For More Impeachment Witnesses

J. Scott Applewhite
Associated Press
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, departs the Senate following defense arguments by the Republicans in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, at the Capitol in Washington, Jan. 25, 2020.

Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins says new revelations in a book draft by former national security advisor John Bolton strengthen the case for witnesses in President Trump's ongoing impeachment trial.In a statement Monday, Collins reiterated her position that witnesses in the trial should be called after House managers and President Donald Trump's attorneys have made their cases.

But Collins and several other potential Republican swing voters have been under pressure to push for witnesses now.

That pressure is growing after a New York Times report that says Bolton's upcoming book details how the president wanted to continue freezing security assistance to Ukraine until the country agreed to investigations into Trump's political rivals.

The revelations could torpedo a key defense made by the president's attorneys - that the aid delay was not related to his pursuit of investigations.

“At this point, I don’t see how any of my colleagues could say it’s not important to hear from Ambassador Bolton,” says independent U.S. Sen. Angus King of Maine. “To willfully ignore the implication that he has relevant facts undermines the idea that this is a real trial. One of the arguments put forward by the President’s defenders is that this information is all hearsay — so let’s get a first-hand source.”

King last week supported Democrats' efforts to subpeona Bolton and other officials for the trial, but those efforts failed when all Senate Republicans, including Collins, voted against the Democratic procedural amendments.

King told NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly on Monday that up to 10 Republican senators could vote for witnesses following the Times’ report about the Bolton manuscript.

“I’m already hearing a number of Republicans who are moving toward voting to at least hear from John Bolton, if not other witnesses,” he said. When asked if four Republicans would vote for witnesses, he said: “I think there’ll be more. My bold prediction will be five or 10.”