NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Former national security adviser John Bolton is slated to speak at Tennessee’s Vanderbilt University later this month alongside another former national security adviser, Susan Rice.
Bolton’s appearance on Feb. 19 comes after the U.S. Senate declined to subpoena Bolton to testify during President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial. That trial ended in Trump’s acquittal this week.
He has remained silent in the immediate aftermath of the acquittal.
Through his legal team Bolton suggested at various points throughout the impeachment process that he had new information relevant to the probe. Portions of his unpublished book manuscript, made public in the days prior to the Senate vote on witnesses, offered glimpses of what he may have told lawmakers under oath if given the chance.
According to a draft manuscript of the book obtained by The New York Times, Bolton writes that President Trump ordered him to help with the pressure campaign to push Ukraine to dig up dirt on Trump’s Democratic rivals.
But Bolton, who is seeking to remain a player in the Republican foreign policy space, according to those familiar with his future plans, has avoided becoming a star witness.
He refused to testify before the Democrat-controlled House inquiry, saying the White House hadn’t authorized him to appear. He then said that if subpoenaed, he would come before the Republican-controlled Senate, which voted against hearing from witnesses.
At the time, the possibility of testifying before the Senate gave Bolton a reason to urge the White House lawyers to produce the review of his manuscript which they said contained classified materials. Now there is less of a reason for such urgency.
It remains unclear if or when Bolton might publicly address the impeachment verdict but he is scheduled to speak at Duke University this month. There are also questions about whether the verdict might impact publication of his forthcoming book, “The Room Where It Happened: A White House memoir.”
Last month, a top official at the National Security Council informed Bolton’s lawyer that the unpublished manuscript “appears to contain significant amounts of classified information” and couldn’t be published as written.
Bolton’s lawyers have used the prospect of his potential testimony to argue that the review process should be expedited but that leverage appears to have evaporated now that the Senate trial is over.
It is possible Bolton could still be subpoenaed by the House, a move Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler said Wednesday was “likely” as relevant committees continue with more investigations after the Senate ruling.
Meanwhile, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff, said Wednesday that after the Senate vote on witnesses was denied in the impeachment trial, the House managers approached Bolton’s counsel and asked if the former national security adviser would be willing to submit an affidavit under oath describing what he observed.
Schiff said the request was refused, a claim that has raised new questions about Bolton’s motives for suggesting he had relevant and consequential information to share.
“We did approach John Bolton’s counsel, asked if Mr. Bolton would be willing to submit an affidavit under oath, describing what he observed in terms of the president’s Ukraine misconduct — and he refused,” Schiff said while appearing on MSNBC with Rachel Maddow.
When asked Wednesday if the House would subpoena Bolton, Schiff told CNN: “We haven’t made any decisions on next steps.”
Asked if the investigation will continue, Schiff added: “We haven’t made any decisions.”
If the House does decide to subpoena Bolton, it is unclear if he will comply. His spokesperson has not replied to a request for comment on the topic.