Bolton has already volunteered to appear before the Senate if subpoenaed, and over the weekend The New York Times revealed that Bolton’s upcoming book details a conversation in which Donald Trump explicitly connects military assistance for Ukraine to extorting an investigation by that country into Joe Biden. Keeping that information out of the Senate trial has become a growing challenge, as polls show swelling support for the testimony of Bolton and other potential witnesses.
The idea of a secret review of the manuscript offers Republicans several attractive options. First, they can emerge from the classified setting to declare that there’s no there there, no matter what’s actually contained in the text. Second, they can condemn Bolton’s text as a money grab from someone whom Fox News is now repositioning from a longtime Republican hardliner to a “deep state agent” who is part of a conspiracy featuring former FBI Director James Comey. Finally, Bolton’s manuscript can be cherry-picked for both complimentary statements about Trump and derogatory comments about Democrats.
If this scheme goes forward, expect Graham to simultaneously claim that Bolton’s manuscript is a smear against Trump and that it says bad, bad things about Nancy Pelosi/Hillary Clinton/Barack Obama. But most of all, expect Graham and other Republicans to claim that, after reviewing the manuscript, they find no reason for Bolton to answer any more questions. Especially when Trump is going to fight Bolton’s appearance.
Then Republicans can demand that Joe Biden appear. After all, they’ll say, they heard from Bolton.