President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton defended his decision not to share what information he may know about the president’s personal involvement in activities in Ukraine until after his book is published, ultimately claiming his testimony would have been insignificant.
“People can argue about what I should have said and what I should have done,” Bolton said Wednesday at Vanderbilt University, during his second public appearance of the week. “I will bet you a dollar right here and now my testimony would have made no difference to the ultimate outcome.”
“I sleep at night because I have followed my conscience,” he continued.
Bolton appeared alongside his predecessor, President Barack Obama’s national security advisor Susan Rice, who questioned his decision to remain silent despite not being subpoenaed to testify in the Senate impeachment trial.
“It’s inconceivable to me that if I had firsthand knowledge of a gross abuse of presidential power, that I would withhold my testimony,” Rice stated to a round of applause. “I would feel like I was shamefully violating my oath that I took to support and defend the Constitution.”
Democrats were eager to hear from Bolton during the Senate impeachment trial after multiple witnesses painted him as someone both aware of and opposed to the president’s efforts in Ukraine. Senate Republicans ultimately defeated Their efforts, an outcome Bolton admitted Wednesday night that he did not expect.
But Bolton also harshly criticized the process, saying the House had “committed impeachment malpractice.”
“The process drove Republicans who might have voted for impeachment away from the president because it was so partisan,” Bolton said.
In his upcoming book, “The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir,” Bolton makes at least two explosive allegations about Trump, according to excerpts of the manuscript obtained and released by the New York Times: that Trump personally tied aid to Ukraine with investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, and that Trump tasked Bolton with setting up a meeting between Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney.
Despite a repeated stated desire to do so, Bolton has refrained from sharing his knowledge on impeachment-related matters while his book goes through a pre-publication security review for classified information with the White House National Security Council. Wednesday night, he warned of an “implied threat of criminal prosecution” if he were to “just spill [his] guts.”
Rice questioned this reasoning, noting she had experienced her fair share “of trepidation about going through the clearance process at the White House” with her own book.
“I can’t say that at any point, the fact of being in the pre-clearance process caused me to refuse to share information with Congress and the public that I thought was of national import,” Rice continued. “I just don’t understand using the fact of the pre-clearance process as a reason not to be forthcoming.”
Bolton on Monday night had accused the Trump administration of “censorship” in its review process while speaking at Duke University, which was his first public remarks since the conclusion of Trump’s impeachment trial.