Trump says he'd like Bolton, Pompeo to testify but will leave witnesses up to Senate

The president made the remarks in a impromptu press conference at the mountain side retreat for the world's elite.

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By Shannon Pettypiece

DAVOS, Switzerland — President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that he would like to see former National Security Adviser John Bolton and other top officials testify at his Senate impeachment trial, but suggested he would block their testimony.

Trump said he'd also like to see testimony from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, and former Energy Secretary Rick Perry, who he said has been asking to testify in the impeachment proceedings. But Trump then argued that he could assert executive privilege to try to block the witnesses if called saying it could be a national security risk if they shared private conversation they had with the president.

"I would rather go the long way. I would rather interview Bolton. I would rather interview a lot of people. The problem with John is, that it’s a national security problem," the president said during an impromptu press conference before departing the annual gathering of business executives, financiers and foreign dignitaries.

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Bolton "knows some of my thoughts, what I think about leaders, what happens if he reveals what I think about a leader and it’s not very positive," he said.

Bolton has said he would be willing to testify, but the Senate hasn't voted yet on whether it will call witnesses after both sides have presented their cases. Trump said he would leave it up to the Senate to decide whether they will call witnesses.

"I’ll leave that to the Senate, the Senate is going to have to answer that," Trump said.

Trump said he had some reservations about Bolton's testimony other than the national security risk because of the circumstances of Bolton's departure from the White House. Trump said in September he fired Bolton after a string of disagreements, announcing the move on Twitter.

“I don’t know if we left on the best of terms, I would think probably not, you don’t like people testifying when they leave on the best of terms, and that was due to me, not due to him,” Trump said Wednesday.

Trump has tried to avoid the impeachment fray while here, seeking to appearance of a president hard at work on the world stage. But the president has been getting regular updates from staffers on the developments back home and watched the proceedings Tuesday from his hotel, said a White House official.

Trump said he believed his lawyers were doing well and seemed to alluded to the documents the White House has refused to give Congress.

"We're doing very well," he told reporters. "Honestly, we have all the material; they don't have the material."

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Trump departs Davos Wednesday after less than 36 hours on the ground here he held meetings with business executives and foreign leaders, including meetings today with the president of Kurdistan and the president of Iraq. He will be touching down in Washington just hours after Democrats have begun their formal oral arguments.

Trump said he would love to attend his own impeachment, but that he didn't think his lawyers would allow that.

“I’d love to go, wouldn’t that be great," Trump said. "I’d love to sit in the front row and stare in their corrupt faces."

CORRECTION (Jan. 22, 2020, 11:15 a.m. ET): A previous version of this article misstated Mike Pompeo’s job title. He is the current secretary of state, not a former secretary of state.