Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) On Potential Bolton Testimony: “I think It’s Entirely Likely That His Testimony Would Be Helpful To The President”

John R. Bolton, the former White House national security adviser, said on Monday that he was willing to testify at President Trump’s impeachment trial if subpoenaed. “I have concluded that, if the Senate issues a subpoena for my testimony, I am prepared to testify,” Mr. Bolton said in a statement on his website.

Guy Benson got reaction on this significant development from Senator John Cornyn (R-TX).

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Full Transcript: 

Guy Benson: We begin the program with U.S. Senator John Cornyn, a Republican of Texas, who joins me now. Senator, great to have you back.

Sen. Cornyn: Thanks, guy. Happy New Year.

Guy Benson: Happy New Year to you. Let’s start with impeachment. I want to get to Iran as well. But there was a significant development today. Former National Security Adviser John Bolton, who we know, of course, around here at Fox, pretty well put out a statement saying that after weighing all of the issues, he has, quote, concluded that if the Senate issues a subpoena for my testimony, I am prepared to testify. He is one of those witnesses that we’ve heard Democrats talking about. The House didn’t bother to subpoena him. But I think there could be some merit to hearing what he has to say. What are your thoughts on that development involving John Bolton? Should he testify?

Sen. Cornyn: Well, I think it’s entirely likely that his testimony would be helpful to the president, because it would identify basically a foreign policy dispute which is reserved to the president under the Constitution, is really his sole authority as a as a basis for impeachment for this. Now, the third time in American history. So he could. It could well be beneficial. And as to the second count, which is obstruction, you’ll recall that the Adam Schiff did say he was wanted to subpoena Ambassador Bolton. But when Ambassador Bolton said he wanted a court to instruct him whether to comply with the subpoena or whether to invoke executive privilege, as the White House had insisted that he’d look to the court for guidance and Adam Schiff dropped it like a hot potato. So I don’t know how this would come out the way I read the ambassador’s offer. He didn’t say what he was testimony would be, but he would respond to the subpoena. And I would expect anyone who was subpoenaed by the vote of 51 senators to respond. But what their testimony actually turns out to be, that’s another matter.

Guy Benson:  Would you vote in favor of hearing from John Bolton if there was a vote on that subpoena, whether it’s, let’s say, in your one of your committees, the Judiciary Committee of Chairman Graham decided, OK, let’s do it under our auspices or whether it was the full Senate. Do you personally support hearing from John Bolton in this process?

Sen. Cornyn: Well, I would want to know what he has to offer that would help illuminate the issues. The two articles of impeachment that have been issued by the House of Representatives, that would be that would define the scope of any Senate trial. But I think it really is a is an admission by the House, in essence, that in the Senate Democrats that they believe that the basis the 17 witnesses who did testify in the House and the record that they develop there are really inadequate in order to make their case in the Senate. So they’re looking for anything and everything, including additional witnesses, in order to bolster that case in the Senate, because they know what they’ve got so far isn’t really sufficient to get the job done.

Guy Benson: Senator, I have to say, Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, is frequently touted as a master tactician. I think sometimes that reputation has been earned. But I am still flabbergasted that they passed these articles of impeachment, rushed to do it before Christmas, and time was of the essence. It was very urgent for the well-being of our very republic that they do it as soon as possible, which is why they raced through everything and then shoved it in a drawer. Both articles in a drawer and it’s been sitting there collecting dust now for weeks. It is 2020. Are you surprised that this continues to be the status quo? What exactly are they doing?

Sen. Cornyn: Well, I’m I am a little surprised because I agree with you. I think ordinarily Speaker Pelosi is a pretty shrewd political tactician. But I think here she got forced to do something she did not want to do in the first place, which was to proceed with the impeachment. You may recall her comments back in March of 2019, where she said only if it was bipartisan and the case compelling would it be worn. The divisiveness that would necessarily arise out of an impeachment proceeding. And then she proceeded after that. Months after that to basically cave in to the demands of the most radical members of her own party. I think that’s what happened here. And now she’s finds herself in a a bit of a box canyon. And it’s not clear exactly how she gets out of this unless, of course, Senator McConnell succumbs, which I know he will not do to the entreaties of Senator Schumer to recreate the circus like atmosphere in the House, in the Senate. We’re not going to do that. We will take it seriously. We will perform our constitutional responsibilities. But I think this is a box that. Speaker Pelosi has gotten herself in, and it’s going to be fascinating to see how she gets out of it.

Guy Benson: Do you have any sense of when this trial might happen because they have to send them over at some point, you would think, except the media keeps talking about an impasse or a standoff. The standoff is totally created by one sidedness, by not just passing along the articles like the last House of Representatives to impeach a president. Did I just. It seems I’m mystified.

Sen. Cornyn:  Yeah, well, you would think that that Senate Democrats who negotiated a procedural arrangement for the President Clinton impeachment, that they would be satisfied with that same arrangement being used in the impeachment trial of President Trump. But they’re not. And they’re asking for more. As we’ve discussed and I think they know how this ends, because it’s going to take 67 votes to convict and remove President Trump. And they’re doing all of this less than a year, about 11 months until the next general election. I think it’s it’s really backfiring on them. They know it is. And they’re they’re desperate to try to find a way out. But so far, they haven’t figured it out.

Guy Benson: Last question on this subject. Senator Schumer and a few of his colleagues have gone out there and said that Republicans in the Senate, including Senator McConnell, Leader McConnell, are not impartial jurors. They can’t be impartial. They’re coordinating with the White House. And there have been calls for recusal, are saying that they’re really not fulfilling their constitutional duty in this process. What’s your response when you hear that critique?

Sen. Cornyn: Well, I I I wonder whether Senator Schumer thinks that Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren or Joe Biden I guess he is no longer in the Senate. Amy Klobuchar and other senators running for president are, strictly speaking, impartial writers. It’s not a good it’s not a good analogy. I know all of us, including myself, have used that as an analogy, but it’s not the same thing as an impartial jury in a criminal or civil case that would be tried in a court of law. We know that the that this is primarily a political matter and one where the people who cast their vote, either in the House from the Senate will be held accountable by the people they represent. That’s what this is. So I think it’s it’s hypocritical, particularly if looking back on the way that Senator Schumer and others conducted themselves in the Clinton impeachment, he actually ran for the Senate against Senator Al D’Amato, saying if elected, he would vote to acquit President Clinton. That’s not exactly impartial.

Guy Benson: No, it’s the opposite. Right. Is. It was pledging to be partial. Right. So. Exactly. It’s a it’s a rich it’s a rich line of criticism from him. Given his past that you’ve just outlined there, Senator, let’s move to Iran and the strike on Soleimani, the Iranian general and terrorist mastermind. Your reaction? We’ve had the weekend to think about it. I know D.C. is buzzing and people are fighting about it. Your assessment?

Sen. Cornyn: Well, the world is a better place for for this. And certainly while we don’t know what Iran’s response is going to be, I think President Trump acted within his authority to defend the United States, our troops and our interests in the Middle East against somebody who has American blood on his hands and who’s been known to be part of a designated terrorist organization, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard and particularly the Kurds force that has is well-known throughout the Middle East, providing things like explosively formed penetrators, which would cut through the armor of American soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq like a knife through a hot knife, through butter. So nobody should mourn the demise of general Soleimani And the president did operate within his constitutional authority. I think what we’ve just been discussing and the disarray of the House over this impeachment matter shows the wisdom of the founding fathers giving these sort of decisions under the Constitution to the commander in chief and not 535 members of Congress. I think the contrast between the way that the death of Osama bin Laden was greeted on a bipartisan basis in the way now that Soleimani death is being greeted on a partisan basis, is tells tells the story.

Guy Benson: I have seen some television interviews where prominent Democrats, for example, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, former DNC chairwoman, she’s a member of Congress from Florida. Also, Elizabeth Warren, one of your colleagues in the Senate who’s running for president. They have suggested that President Trump Green led the attack against Soleimani as a means of distraction from impeachment. What do you make of an allegation like that?

Sen. Cornyn: Well, I think it’s irresponsible and I think it defies reality. I mean, the truth is it’s the Democrats who are trying to change the subject and trying to create a further circus like atmosphere here in the Senate because of their lack of success in dealing with this impeachment matter in the House. This is obviously a totally separate matter. I respect people what Democrats like Joe Lieberman and Jay Johnson, who both said in recent days that this is well within the president’s authority and a necessary act. And I also respect great leaders like Ryan Crocker, who today I think is in The New York Times, wrote a piece about why this was within the president’s authority, why it was necessary. And it was a former CIA director and CENTCOM commander, David Petraeus, who made the point that this is more significant in terms of our fight against radical Islam than was the death of Osama bin Laden. So this was a a very big deal. And I think the president is to be commended for his decisive action in the face of a real threat.

Guy Benson: Last question. It deals with that last point that you made, the real threat. There are some people questioning the intelligence about imminent attacks or what Soleimani was up to. I know there are briefings scheduled for some of your colleagues on Capitol Hill later on in the week. Based on what you’ve seen, what you’ve heard, what is your understanding of the solid ness of that intelligence?

Sen. Cornyn: Well, I have read the the war powers notification that the president sent over here. I think he has to do it within 48 hours of of the of the strike. And he did. I think we all know generally what the role of Iran has been. The national sponsor, international sponsor of international terrorism, who the sponsoring force, pro-Hezbollah, Hamas and other radical groups. I just think that the the idea that this was not a threat, then that’s who Soleimani was somehow an innocent and didn’t deserve. What he got is just flies in the face of the reality that we all that we all understand and know. But we will be further briefings. I just wonder whether the facts will matter to our friends who’ve already made up their mind. Anything President Trump does, they’re against reflexively.

Guy Benson: Yes. Those very same impartial jurists. Right. Same the same folks,in some of those cases. A lot going on. Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, we so appreciate your time on this Monday. Thank you.

Sen. Cornyn: Thank you, guy.

Guy Benson: We are just kicking off the program and the week it’s the Guy Benson’s show. Stay with me.