The integrity of the United States of America as a constitutional republic where no one is above the law now resides inside the conscience of John Bolton.
Donald Trump’s former national security advisor is said to claim to have pertinent first-hand knowledge of Trump’s innocence or culpability to the impeachment charges that he abused the powers of his office by trying to coerce the Ukrainian government to announce an investigation into his political rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter in exchange for a White House meeting with Ukraine’s president and for releasing congressionally approved military assistance in Ukraine’s fight against Russian-backed insurgents. Trump is also charged with obstructing the House investigation.
Bolton had been portrayed by witnesses during the House impeachment inquiry as being opposed to the withholding of aid. Yet he didn’t testify. Now he says he would talk if subpoenaed, but the Republican-controlled Senate refuses to call him.
The dilemma Bolton faces is comparable to an unidentified eyewitness to a murder whose testimony could convict or exonerate an accused. Does the witness come forward or remain silent, thus risking either the release of a killer or incarceration, even execution, of an innocent defendant?
At a Wednesday press conference at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Trump said he fears Bolton could reveal presidential thoughts on foreign leaders, thus making his job as president harder. (An understandable argument for executive privilege keeping Bolton silent.) He also cast doubt on Bolton’s objectivity since he left the White House under strained relations which Trump indicated were his, not Bolton’s, fault. (A deft way of undercutting Bolton’s credibility.)
Now is Bolton’s “profile in courage” moment. Having teased that he knows something about Trump’s actions in the Ukraine affair, he must publicly declare his knowledge, if not in front of the Senate then in a forum available to all citizens, on television or in print, BEFORE the Senate votes guilty or not guilty on the impeachment charges.
If what Bolton knows upholds Trump’s claim of innocence, so be it. No harm, no foul. Tellingly, it would go a long way in erasing any doubts the public might have that a coverup exists.
But if his testimony would undercut Trump’s innocence, it would be injurious to the nation if Bolton remained silent. There is no guarantee the Senate would convict based on Bolton’s words alone, but a statement from Bolton could uncork additional evidence and testimony from aides Trump has heretofore bottled up.
The integrity of our government cannot be placed at risk by Bolton’s silence. Bolton’s government service has had a checkered history. He was one of the champions of the Iraqi war on the pretense Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. He has been a hawk on issues of national defense and security.
Honest leaders may disagree on those positions. But it is inconceivable that anyone with relevant information concerning the impeachment trial of a president could knowingly and willfully withhold such information from the Senate and the American public.
Inaction is not an option for Bolton. The time for him to step up is immediate. It is now. Before it is too late.