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'The facts haven't changed': Republicans dismiss Bolton book's impact on Senate impeachment trial


'The circus is over. It's time to move on!'

Alex Edelman/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Sunday night revelations about former White House national security adviser John Bolton's forthcoming book have threatened to upend the Senate's impeachment trial, but several Republican senators are saying that the news doesn't change anything for them.

The New York Times reported late Sunday that Bolton's new book claims that President Donald Trump admitted in August that he wanted to continue holding up military aid to Ukraine if the Ukrainian government did not cooperate with investigations into the Bidens. Trump responded that he "NEVER told John Bolton that the aid to Ukraine was tied to investigations into Democrats, including the Bidens."

Naturally, the news prompted congressional Democrats to reiterate their longstanding calls for witnesses, with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) asking, "How can Senate Republicans not vote to call that witness and request his documents?" at a Monday morning news conference.

In an appearance on CNN, Senate Judiciary Committee member Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) said that not calling Bolton to testify "will tell me that the Republicans are going right along with the president and Mitch McConnell in rigging this trial."

Before the trial proceedings resumed Monday, some Republican lawmakers were dismissive of the report's overall effect on the case.

"I think we're going to have some new something that comes out every single day" of the trial, Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) told reporters, adding that it "doesn't really change anything."

Blackburn's fellow Tennessean, outgoing Sen. Lamar Alexander (R), said that he would withhold judgment on whether or not new evidence was needed until the White House's team finished their opening arguments and senators had asked written questions later in the week.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told reporters that the news "doesn't change the underlying facts that a president is justified, has full authority and indeed a responsibility to investigate serious evidence of corruption." He also said that he "predicted at the outset of this proceeding that there would be breathless revelations day after day that would be turned into a frenzy."

"There is nothing new here to what the House managers have been saying." Senate GOP Conference Chairman John Barrasso (Wyo.) said about the Bolton news at a Monday news conference. "Take a breath; let's listen to the President's lawyers today in the case they present."

"Do not get distracted by the shiny objects of saying 'we need witnesses' or Bolton's new manuscript or anything else," House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Doug Collins (R-Ga.) told reporters. "Don't lose sight of the fact that the facts haven't changed."

Speaking to reporters in the basement of the Capitol Building, Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) even questioned Bolton's credibility, saying that "I wouldn't bet my house" on him telling the truth, and said that new allegations would have more credibility if they were raised by someone else.

But not everyone in the Senate Republican conference was so dismissive of the report's allegations. GOP Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) said that the Bolton book news "strengthens the case for witnesses" in a statement, while Sen. Mitt Romney (Utah) said it was "increasingly likely that other Republicans will join those of us who think we should hear from John Bolton."

The Senate's newest Republican member even went so car as to criticize Romney over wanting to hear from Bolton. In a Monday tweet, Sen. Kelly Loeffler (Ga.) said that her colleague "wants to appease" the left by calling witnesses with potentially damaging testimony to the trial. "The circus is over. It's time to move on!"

Additionally, despite his previously stated desire not to draw out the length of the trial with more witnesses, Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) said that he would want to see what's in the manucript in order to determine whether or nor he should be called.

"I want to see what's in the manuscript," Graham — one of Trump's top allies in the trial process so far — told reporters. "Let's see what's in the manuscript, let's see if it's relevant, and if it is, I'll make a decision about Bolton."

However, Graham also reiterated Monday that if the Senate calls Democrat-desired witnesses, then the chamber should also allow President Trump "to call all relevant witnesses he has requested."

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