The reported bombshell claim by former National Security Adviser John Bolton has left President Trump’s defenders “spinning like crazy” and likely triggered a “furious” response by Senate Republicans toward the White House, “Fox News Sunday” anchor Chris Wallace said Monday.
Appearing on Fox News’ live coverage of the Senate impeachment trial, Wallace told anchors Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum that he does not agree with the Trump team’s attempts to downplay the New York Times report. In his forthcoming book, Bolton reportedly claims that Trump explicitly linked a hold on Ukraine aid to an investigation of Joe and Hunter Biden.
“If you want a sense of how big the news is that we’ve heard in the last 12 or 14 hours, just listen to the Trump supporters, like Congressman Lee Zeldin and others, spinning like crazy. You get a sense that this is really an important development in this case,” said Wallace.
Zeldin — a New York Republican who serves on the Trump defense team — told Baier and MacCallum that he does not believe the Bolton story changes the dynamics of the case.
“The president should be acquitted. We shouldn’t have even put the country through this in the first place. It does not change the dynamic that our country is being ripped in half right now,” said Zeldin.
The Times exclusively reported Sunday that Bolton’s book manuscript included a claim that Trump explicitly linked a hold on Ukraine aid to an investigation of Joe and Hunter Biden. Trump told Bolton in August, according to a transcript of Bolton’s forthcoming book reviewed by the Times, “that he wanted to continue freezing $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine until officials there helped with investigations into Democrats including the Bidens.”
Trump fired back on Twitter on Sunday to refute Bolton’s claims, saying he “NEVER told John Bolton that the aid to Ukraine was tied to investigations into Democrats, including the Bidens.”
Trump went on to accuse Bolton of trying to “sell a book,” noting that Bolton did not complain publicly or privately about the aid holdup “at the time of his very public termination.”
Wallace said the impeachment trial previously appeared to be heading toward an acquittal later this week, with the Democrats’ calls for additional witnesses seeming to be “petering out.”
But he said the Bolton news may have changed the trajectory, possibly pushing a sufficient number of Republican senators to agree with Democrats that Bolton’s testimony is needed. He also said many Senate Republicans are likely “furious” at the White House and feel blindsided by the news.
“It seems to me that it’s going to be awfully hard for those Republican senators in the middle, maybe even some more senators than that, to now vote against witnesses … I suspect you’re going to find there are a lot of Republicans in that Senate lunch happening right now who are furious at the White House, saying: ‘Why didn’t you give us a heads up on this? We were [saying] no witnesses, nothing to see here, and you knew because the [book] transcript was submitted some time ago, you knew [Bolton] was going to basically incriminate you, so you put an egg on our face,'” said Wallace.