Politics

John Bolton would testify in Trump impeachment probe under certain legal conditions, report says

Key Points
  • Former national security advisor John Bolton was a no-show Thursday for a scheduled deposition in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.
  • But Bolton is reportedly still willing to testify under certain conditions.
  • A House Intelligence Committee official says that Bolton's lawyer would take the House panels conducting the probe to court if his client was subpoenaed.
U.S. National Security Advisor, John Bolton, meets with journalists during a visit to London, August 12, 2019.
Peter Nicholls | Reuters

Former national security advisor John Bolton was a no-show Thursday for a scheduled deposition in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump — but Bolton is reportedly still willing to testify under certain conditions.

Bolton, who maintains that he resigned in September despite Trump's claim that he was fired, is expected to confirm prior testimony in the inquiry from other current and former officials, The Washington Post reported Thursday, citing people familiar with Bolton's views.

Bolton could also describe his own conversations with the president, the Post reported, which could shed light on the administration's efforts to get Ukraine to announce investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter and the 2016 presidential election, which have formed the core of the impeachment probe.

But Bolton's decision on complying with the inquiry is contingent on whether a constitutional court fight pans out in favor of the House or the Trump administration, the Post reported.

Bolton's former deputy, Charles Kupperman, had been told by the Trump administration not to cooperate with the probe. But he was also subpoenaed by House Democrats to appear for a deposition. While other witnesses had chosen to defy the White House's admonitions, Kupperman filed a lawsuit asking a judge to rule on which party has more authority.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., had warned that Kupperman may be held in contempt for defying the congressional subpoena for his testimony.

Bolton had reportedly been willing to testify in public under subpoena if Kupperman is directed by the courts to comply with the House, according to NBC News, citing a source familiar with Bolton's situation.

But a House Intelligence Committee official said Thursday that Bolton's lawyer would take the House panels conducting the probe to court if his client was subpoenaed.

"We would welcome John Bolton's deposition and he did not appear as he was requested today. His counsel has informed us that unlike three other dedicated public servants who worked for him on the NSC and have complied with lawful subpoenas, Mr. Bolton would take us to court if we subpoenaed him," the official told CNBC.

The official also said that Bolton's barriers to cooperation with the probe amount to more evidence of Trump's obstruction of Congress in its impeachment inquiry.

"We regret Mr. Bolton's decision not to appear voluntarily, but we have no interest in allowing the administration to play rope-a-dope with us in the courts for months. Rather, the White House instruction that he not appear will add to the evidence of the president's obstruction of Congress," the official said.

Bolton's lawyer, Charles Cooper, did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment. The White House also did not provide a comment on the Post's article.

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