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Schiff blasts 'sheer nerve' of Bolton for refusing to testify before House Democrats' impeachment probe

Posted June 18, 2020 10:07 p.m. EDT

— Rep. Adam Schiff, who led House Democrats' impeachment investigation into President Donald Trump, blasted John Bolton on Thursday after the former national security adviser asserted in his forthcoming book that Democrats committed "impeachment malpractice" by not broadening the scope of their probe.

"It's quite a charade, I give him credit for sheer nerve," Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told CNN's Erin Burnett on "OutFront" Thursday. "Because what he's saying basically is, 'there was malpractice in impeachment because you should have investigated things that I was unwilling to tell you about.' And that's pretty breathtaking."

The House sought Bolton's testimony last year but he declined to appear because the White House did not authorize him to do so. Democrats did not seek to force him to testify, concerned about how long a legal battle over a subpoena would likely take. Bolton later said he would be willing to testify in the Republican-led Senate impeachment trial if he was subpoenaed, but the Senate declined to hear from witnesses.

Schiff, a California Democrat, characterized Bolton's comments in his book as his "best effort" to "try to rationalize why he didn't do his patriotic duty" by testifying -- accusing Bolton of having "decided he was going to fight in court unless he got to save it for his book."

"I think it's also an effort to stay in the good graces of Republicans even as he's trashing the President," added Schiff, who seemed to find the book's accounts credible.

"I think we have to take the allegations of the President's conduct seriously because they're all too consistent with what we showed during the trial," Schiff said.

In his book, a copy of which was obtained by CNN Wednesday, Bolton blames House Democrats for being too fixated on the schedule with the Democratic presidential primary approaching, accusing them of playing "hysterical" games instead of running a serious investigation.

"If Trump deserved impeachment and conviction, the American public deserved a serious and thorough effort to justify the extraordinary punishment of removing an elected president from office," Bolton wrote. "That did not happen."

Bolton argued that even if he had been called to testify by the Senate, he is "convinced" that it would have made "no significant difference" to the outcome.

When asked Thursday whether he would pursue more information that Bolton could hold, Schiff said Democratic House leadership has "just begun discussions with leadership about what next steps are appropriate to find out more about what John Bolton experienced, saw, witnessed in terms of the President's wrongdoing."

"I think it's worth making sure we understand just how (Trump) has exposed and undermined the country, but how we do that, we're still in the process of discussing," Schiff added.

Bolton alleges in the book that Trump personally asked his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, to help him win the 2020 US presidential election by purchasing US agricultural products. Bolton also says Xi told Trump during a meeting at last year's G-20 summit that China was building concentration camps for the mass detention of Uyghur Muslims, Trump said Xi should go ahead building the camps, "which he thought was exactly the right thing to do."

Trump has called Bolton's book a "compilation of lies and made up stories."

"Now we see in the book that he wasn't just calling on China to investigate the Bidens," Schiff said, referencing how Trump openly asked China to investigate his presumptive Democratic opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, last year.

"It shows a whole different level of unfitness for office," he added. "Those things surprised me in that they were new -- didn't surprise me at all in that it's true to the President's lack of character."

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