Yesterday, The New York Times reported that John Bolton’s lawyer, Charles Cooper, in speaking for Bolton, wrote to the House of Representatives that the former National Security Adviser knows about “many relevant meetings and conversations” in connection with Ukraine.
Of course, Bolton isn’t just giving away the dirt on Trump — he’s still putting himself before country and waiting to see what move best suits him. Unlike other current and former Trump officials have been wrestling whether to comply with House subpoenas, Bolton apparently is willing to talk only if a court should rule he ignore the White House’s objections.
At least in theory, that shouldn’t be much of an issue. The letters the White House has been sending officials who have been called upon to testify aren’t legally binding. They aren’t even particularly strongly worded. It seems as though Trump’s current legal team has at least some foresight, in that they knew not to draft letters that would incriminate them in any way.
Further, Trump’s broad claims of executive privilege, and its extension to people in his general sphere, are flimsy at best. It’s a safe bet that the court is probably not going to rule that Bolton should comply with the White House’s stupid letter.
But here’s the problem. Bolton’s lawyer, Cooper, wrote in his letter to the House that Bolton is essentially unlikely to be able to answer many questions they ask Bolton: “‘Here, unlike McGahn, information concerning national security and foreign affairs is at the heart of the committees’ impeachment inquiry, and it is difficult to imagine any question that the committees might put to Mr. Kupperman or Mr. Bolton ‘that would not implicate these sensitive areas,’ Mr. Cooper wrote.” (via NYT).
This gets us back to the court. The real question is whether they’ll allow Bolton to testify given what he knows and the sensitivity of that information. It’s not at all inconceivable that they’d allow it, perhaps under certain restrictions, but what this all means is that it probably will take at least a few weeks before we get any meaningful updates on whether Bolton will testify. Even at their fastest, the courts can only move so fast. Stay tuned, and I think stay optimistic. A Bolton testimony seems inevitable at this point given the gravity of the situation.