Trump says 'you have to' block Bolton from testifying 'for the sake of the office'
President Donald Trump told Fox News that he thinks he would "have to" invoke executive privilege to block former national security adviser John Bolton from testifying in the Senate impeachment trial, saying it would be "for the sake of the office."
In an interview excerpt released Friday, Trump said when asked by the network's Laura Ingraham why he wouldn't allow Bolton to testify, "I have no problem, other than one thing: You can't be in the White House as president — future, I'm talking about future, many future presidents — and have a security adviser, anybody having to do with security, and legal and other things. ..."
"You're going to invoke executive privilege?" Ingraham asked.
"Especially — well, I think you have to. For the sake of the office," Trump said.
The administration has tried to prevent several top officials from testifying in the House and Senate proceedings, frustrating Democrats who have called for their testimony. Bolton, a key figure in the impeachment saga who did not testify during the House inquiry, said earlier this week he would be willing to testify if subpoenaed by the Senate.
Trump said Thursday that he wouldn't mind a deal in the Senate for witnesses to be called if it meant that his defense could also call people to testify, including Joe Biden and his son Hunter. When asked whether he’d object to his former national security adviser testifying, Trump told reporters at the White House that it would be up to the Senate, but protecting executive privilege was critical.
Sen. Susan Collins working with 'fairly small group' of Republicans to ensure witnesses at Trump's trial
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said Friday that she's been working with "a fairly small group" of Republican senators to make sure witnesses can be called in President Donald Trump's impending Senate impeachment trial.
"We should be completely open to calling witnesses," Collins told reporters in Bangor, Maine, the Bangor Daily News reported. She declined to say who or how many GOP lawmakers she's been working with, but said “I am hopeful that we can reach an agreement on how to proceed with the trial that will allow the opportunity for both the House and the president's counsel if they choose to do so."
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Pelosi prepares to send articles of impeachment to Senate, will consult with Democrats on Tuesday
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a letter to Democratic lawmakers on Friday that she will consult with her members on Tuesday as she announced steps to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate.
The letter also suggested that the House could name its managers, who will act as the prosecutors of President Donald Trump for the Senate trial, and transmit the two articles of impeachment against the president as soon as next week. But Pelosi gave no specific indication of exactly when she intends to send the articles to the Senate, a step that is necessary for the trial to begin.
"I have asked Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler to be prepared to bring to the floor next week a resolution to appoint managers and transmit articles of impeachment to the Senate," she wrote. "I will be consulting with you at our Tuesday House Democratic Caucus meeting on how we proceed further," she said.
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McConnell backs resolution allowing dismissal if impeachment articles are delayed
McConnell said Thursday that he is signing on to resolution from Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., that would allow for the dismissal of the articles of impeachment if Pelosi fails to transmit them to the Senate.
It is highly unlikely the resolution will pass, as it needs 67 votes— unless McConnell were to go nuclear— and neither option seems viable.
Trump would support witnesses testifying in Senate trial if Bidens were called
President Donald Trump said Thursday that he wouldn’t mind a deal in the Senate for witnesses to be called during his impeachment trial if it meant that his defense could also call people to testify, including Joe and Hunter Biden.
"I’m going to leave it to the Senate, but I’d like to hear from the whistleblower, I’d like to hear from shifty Schiff, I’d like to hear from Hunter Biden and Joe Biden," Trump told reporters in response to a question about whether there were circumstances under which he’d support the calling of witnesses in his impeachment trial.
When asked whether he’d object to his former national security adviser John Bolton testifying in a Senate trial, Trump said that it would be up to the Senate, but that it would be critical to protect executive privilege.
"That’s really going to be up to the Senate," he said. "I'd have to ask the lawyers because we do have to, to me, for the future, we have to protect presidential privilege. When we start allowing national security advisers to just go up and say whatever they want to say, we can't do that."
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Pelosi won't budge on sending impeachment articles to Senate, despite calls from Democrats
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Thursday that she will send the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump to the Senate "when I'm ready," rebuffing calls from top Democrats to submit them.
“No, I’m not holding them indefinitely," Pelosi told reporters during a press conference at the Capitol. "I will turn them over when I’m ready, and that will probably be soon.”
Some Democrats in the House and Senate have joined Republicans in recent days in saying it's time for Pelosi to send the articles to the Senate.
Top House Dem walks back remark that Pelosi should send Senate the impeachment articles
Trump and McConnell met at White House to discuss Senate impeachment trial
President Donald Trump met privately with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., at the White House on Wednesday and discussed the impending Senate impeachment trial, two sources confirmed to NBC News.
McConnell walked Trump through the potential format of the trial and conveyed the current mood among Senate Republicans, one of the sources said. McConnell said earlier this week that he has enough Republican support to proceed with his plan for the trial without the support of Democrats, who are demanding he call several top administration witnesses.
McConnell's plan would follow the parameters of former President Bill Clinton's impeachment trial: an initial agreement to first hear the case and a later vote on whether to call witnesses.
Top House Democrat: 'Time to send' articles of impeachment to Senate
House Armed Services Chairman Adam Smith, D-Wash., said Thursday that "it is time" for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to transmit the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump to the Senate.
Smith's call comes as several Democratic senators this week have pushed for Pelosi to send the articles to the Senate so the trial can begin.
"I understand what the speaker is trying to do, basically trying to use the leverage of that to work with Democratic and Republican senators to try to get a reasonable trial, a trial that would actually show evidence, bring out witnesses," Smith told CNN. "But at the end of the day, just like we control it in the House, [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell controls it in the Senate."
"I think it was perfectly advisable for the speaker to try to leverage that to get a better deal," he continued. "At this point, it doesn't look like that is going to happen. And yes, I think it is time to send the impeachment to the Senate and let Mitch McConnell be responsible for the fairness of the trial. He ultimately is."
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