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Schumer says Mulvaney more important witness: Impeachment update

Justin Sink
Bloomberg

Donald Trump’s defense lawyers resume their presentation at 1 p.m. Monday after opening their arguments Saturday by saying House managers failed to prove the president should be removed from office.

Here are the latest developments:

Schumer Says Mulvaney More Important Witness (11:30 a.m.)

In this Jan. 13, 2020. file photo, President Donald Trump and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney walk along the colonnade of the White House in Washington.

Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney would be an even more important trial witness than former National Security Advisor John Bolton, said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

“He was chief cook and bottle washer” and witnessed more events than Bolton, Schumer told reporters Monday.

“We want the eyewitnesses to what the president did to testify,“ Schumer said.

Two GOP Senators Lean Toward Calling Bolton (10:59 a.m.)

Republican Senator Susan Collins said the reports about former National Security Advisor John Bolton’s book “strengthen the case for witnesses and have prompted a number of conversations among my colleagues.”

Collins of Maine said on Twitter, “I’ve always said that I was likely to vote to call witnesses, just as I did in the 1999 Clinton trial.”

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, departs the Senate following defense arguments by the Republicans in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump at the Capitol in Washington, Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020. Collins, a moderate up for re-election, has said she is "likely" to want to hear from witnesses in the impeachment trial, a move which would put her at odds with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

Separately, Senator Mitt Romney said it’s “increasingly likely” that more Republicans will say the Senate should hear testimony from Bolton.

“It’s increasingly apparent that it would be important to hear from John Bolton,” Romney said on MSNBC, though he said he wouldn’t make a final decision until both sides finish presenting their cases.

“I think at this stage it’s pretty fair to say that John Bolton has relevant testimony,“ Romney said, a day after a New York Times report that Bolton has first-hand knowledge of Trump’s personal involvement in a scheme to extract dirt on a political rival by withholding aid from Ukraine.

“I think it’s increasingly likely that other Republicans will join those of us who think we should hear from John Bolton,” the Utah senator said.

NSC Says No Outsiders Saw Bolton Manuscript (10:03 a.m.)

No White House personnel outside of the National Security Council have viewed the manuscript of John Bolton’s book, NSC spokesman John Ullyot said in a statement Monday.

“Ambassador Bolton’s manuscript was submitted to the NSC for pre-publication review and has been under initial review by the NSC. No White House personnel outside NSC have reviewed the manuscript,” Ullyot said.

Schiff Says Bolton’s Notes Are Vital to Case (9:10 a.m.)

Lead House impeachment manager Adam Schiff told CNN he will press not only for testimony from John Bolton in the Senate impeachment trial but also for “contemporaneous” notes Bolton took during his time as Trump’s national security adviser.

“We ought to not only have John Bolton testify but we ought to see what he wrote down in his notes at the time,” Schiff said.

House managers will ask for Bolton’s notes to be produced as evidence. “These are contemporaneous,” Schiff said. “These notes took place while the events were happening, while they were fresh in his mind. Those, in many respects, are more important than the manuscript.”

Representative Jim Jordan, a key Republican ally of Trump, told Fox News Monday that a New York Times report on Bolton’s knowledge of the matter “doesn’t alter the fundamental facts.”

White House Dismisses Bolton Book Revelation (8:15 a.m.)

The White House is pushing back on a bombshell New York Times report that Bolton has first-hand knowledge of Trump’s personal involvement in a scheme to extract dirt on a political rival by withholding aid from Ukraine.

“That’s just not true,” White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said in an interview with Fox News on Monday. “The timing of all of this is very, very suspect.”

“The president did nothing wrong and we stand by exactly what we’ve been saying all along and exactly what the transcript has been showing all along,” Grisham said.

Meanwhile, Senator Josh Hawley, a Republican from Missouri, said on Fox that if the Senate calls Bolton to testify, it should also hear from all witnesses that are “material and relevant,” including former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden, the Ukraine whistle-blower and Schiff.

“If we’re going to call witness, than we need to call all the witnesses that are material and relevant,” Hawley said. “This isn’t just about John Bolton.”

Trump Senate Trial Heads Into Pivotal Week (6 a.m.)

The president’s lawyers on Monday plan to expand on the preview they offered during a two-hour argument on Saturday. They can make up to 22 hours of additional arguments over two days, though they’ve said they may not take all of that time.

After Trump’s lawyers finish presenting their case, senators will have up to 16 hours to ask questions of either side through written queries submitted to Chief Justice John Roberts.

Then the prosecution and defense will argue for four hours over whether to subpoena witnesses or documents, as Democrats have demanded and most Republicans oppose. A Senate vote to call for witnesses and documents would lengthen the trial, while a rejection of the proposal could lead swiftly to votes on a final verdict.

A report Sunday by the New York Times about former National Security Adviser John Bolton’s potential testimony puts new pressure on Republican moderate senators to accept Democratic demands to subpoena new witnesses.