President TrumpDonald John TrumpRouhani says Iran will never seek nuclear weapons Trump downplays seriousness of injuries in Iran attack after US soldiers treated for concussions Trump says Bloomberg is ‘wasting his money’ on 2020 campaign MORE said Wednesday that he would let the GOP-controlled Senate decide whether his impeachment trial should include witness testimony.
Trump also said that he would rather go the “long way” with a Senate impeachment trial and have former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonThe Hill’s Morning Report – Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions Trump says impeachment lawyers were ‘really good’ Senate Republicans muscle through rules for Trump trial MORE and others testify, but that their appearances would pose a risk to national security.
“I would rather go the long way. I would rather interview Bolton. I would rather interview a lot of people,” Trump said at a news conference at the end of a two-day appearance at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
“The problem with John is that it’s a national security problem,” the president continued, indicating executive privilege would apply to Bolton’s testimony. “He knows some of my thoughts. He knows what I think about leaders. what happens if he reveals what I think about a certain leader and it’s not very positive and I have to deal on behalf of the country?”
Trump added that Bolton left his White House on negative terms last September and “you don’t like people testifying when they didn’t leave on good terms.”
Trump also said he would like to have Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoTrump downplays seriousness of injuries in Iran attack after US soldiers treated for concussions The Hill’s Morning Report – Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions GOP rejects effort to compel documents on delayed Ukraine aid MORE and former Energy Secretary Rick PerryRick PerrySunday shows preview: Lawmakers gear up for Senate impeachment trial Parnas pressure grows on Senate GOP Overnight Energy: Appeals court tosses kids’ climate suit | California sues Trump over fracking | Oversight finds EPA appointees slow-walked ethics obligations MORE testify in the Senate impeachment trial, but that executive privilege would also apply to their testimony for national security reasons.
He added that he’d “love” to have acting chief of staff Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyThe Hill’s Morning Report – Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions Senate Republicans muscle through rules for Trump trial Collins breaks with GOP on attempt to change impeachment rules resolution MORE appear, though there was “not much he could add” beyond an interview Mulvaney did with Fox News’s Chris WallaceChristopher (Chris) WallaceTrump lawyer: Abuse of power, obstruction articles ‘have not fared well’ Jeffries: Calling new witnesses for Senate trial part of following the ‘Clinton model’ Graham: Immediate dismissal of impeachment articles ‘dead for practical purposes’ MORE in October.
Trump instructed Bolton, Mulvaney and other current and former officials not to testify under subpoena in connection with the impeachment inquiry in the House, asserting executive branch immunity. The Democrat-controlled House voted to impeach Trump for obstructing Congress by blocking witnesses and document production, in addition to abusing his power in his dealings with Ukraine.
Democrats have been pushing to call witnesses in the Senate, arguing the process would be otherwise unfair and tilted to favor the president. Trump’s attorneys, meanwhile, have argued Democrats should have sought a resolution to the subpoena fight in court, claiming Trump was asserting constitutional privilege protections offered to the executive branch.
Trump’s remarks in Davos came one day after his trial began in earnest in the Senate. Republicans defeated a number of amendments offered by Democrats to the rules of the trial seeking to subpoena documents and witnesses, including Bolton and Mulvaney, at the outset of the proceedings.
The rules resolution approved in a party-line vote in the early hours Wednesday morning allows for debate on witnesses following the opening arguments by House impeachment managers and the president’s lawyers.
Trump’s lawyers and his White House have shown opposition to calling Democrat-sought witnesses in the impeachment trial, though Trump on Wednesday deferred to the Republican-controlled Senate while railing against his impeachment as a “hoax.”
“I’m going to leave that to the Senate,” Trump said when asked if witnesses should be called. “The Senate is going to have to answer that.”
“I’m going to head back and I’ll be watching,” the president said of the impeachment proceedings. “But it’s really going to be up to the Senate.”
Most Republicans have remained opposed to witness testimony, but a handful of more moderate members have expressed an interest in hearing from witnesses. Senate Democrats need four Republicans to break with their colleagues in order to compel witnesses to testify.