Now that Bolton’s bombshell of a book has detonated, how should Congress and the American people respond to the stunning revelations about President Donald Trump’s misconduct?
Congress should immediately subpoena Bolton to appear before the Foreign Affairs and Judiciary committees and ask him about the allegations detailed in his book, “The Room Where it Happened.” After impetuously imposing tariffs on Chinese products without much consideration for the inevitable retaliation, Trump groveled before Chinese President Xi Jinping and asked China to purchase soybeans and wheat to help American farmers — and his election prospects, according to the book.
While they’re at it, lawmakers should ask Bolton about his claims that the President approved of the Chinese concentration camps in Xinjiang to “re-educate” 1 million Uighur Muslims. Lawmakers should also launch a probe into Bolton’s claim that Trump offered to help Turkish President Recep Erdogan with a Justice Department investigation into a Turkish bank once prosecutors in the Southern District of New York were replaced by “his people.” Attorney General William Bar tried to oust Geoffrey Berman, the US attorney for the Southern District of New York on Friday, but Berman refused — leading Barr to rope Trump in, only for the President to say, “I’m not involved.”
The House and Senate Intelligence Committees should investigate what, if any, classified information was revealed in Bolton’s book. Trump insists Bolton’s book is “a compilation of lies and made up stories, all intended to make me look bad,” but the Justice Department has gone to court to prevent the book’s public release, arguing that it contains classified information. So which is it?
Here’s another burning question demanding public discussion: Why did Bolton decline to testify before the House during the impeachment inquiry, saying he would wait to see if a judge decided whether former aides should do so despite the White House’s objections? Why did Bolton choose not to provide an affidavit? (His later offer to testify before the Republican-led Senate was not taken up). The answer may be: book sales. And sales are now exploding thanks to the President’s reaction to what he must consider Bolton’s betrayal.
Bolton’s calculation seems to question whether Congress and the American people should benefit from the free release of juicy details when publishers are willing to pay big money for dirt that includes: The solicitation of electoral interventions by both Ukraine and China, interference into ongoing investigations, claims that Trump lives by “obstruction of justice as a way of life,” British nuclear weapons, Trump’s bizarre ideas about Finland’s relationship to Russia, the embrace of autocrats, Pompeo’s naughty note and so much more? Hell, there is enough material here for a reality TV show.
Please forgive those of us who are naive enough to believe a very serious man like Bolton had a civic, moral and patriotic obligation to testify rather than hide behind his former colleagues and subordinates — Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, former White House Russia expert Fiona Hill, Ambassadors Marie Yovanovitch and Bill Taylor and others — who answered the call and did their duty. Bolton, on the other hand, punted his decision to a judge. It’s all so revealing and cynical.
“Profiles in Courage” is a short book for a reason. If John F Kennedy were writing it today, it’s clear it wouldn’t include a chapter on Bolton.