A bit of buyer’s remorse seems to be setting in for government employees who testified against President Donald Trump during the House’s rushed impeachment inquiry. And their collective malaise has migrated toward one mustache in particular: former national security advisor and aspiring author John Bolton.
According to one such witness, granted anonymity by CNN, the whole ordeal hardly seems worth the effort and professional strain.
Their gripe with the process was holistic:
All the carnage for something that doesn’t mean very much. Our domestic political battles have just trampled over what our national interests are.
“Republicans think Democrats are a threat to the nation, and the Democrats think the Republicans are a threat to the nation,” another witness against the president told the outlet the president frequently dismisses as the grand purveyors of news that is fake. “Right now, we think the threat that we face is each other.”
That second officially singled out Bolton and his decidedly theatrical role throughout the messy impeachment imbroglio, saying the forever war hawk was “trying to have it both ways” by dishing on Trump while ignoring Democratic Party requests to step forward and testify—like 17 witnesses who weren’t selling books actually had the courage to do.
A third witness summed up the group’s shared disdain for the man who was allegedly concerned enough to slam Trump’s “drug deal,” but not concerned enough to testify.
“Great,” the witness sardonically said. “So our lives are ruined, our names dragged through the mud, but [Bolton] gets to wash his hands of it.”
Bolton was thrust to the fore of the country’s third impeachment after testimony from Trump’s former top Russia expert Fiona Hill suggested he was uncomfortable with the attempted quid pro quo between Trump and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky.
…I went back to talk to Ambassador Bolton. And Ambassador Bolton asked me to go over and report this to our NSC counsel, to John Eisenberg. And he told me, and this is a direct quote from Ambassador Bolton: You go and tell Eisenberg that I am not part of whatever drug deal [Gordon] Sondland and [Mitch] Mulvaney are cooking up on this, and you go and tell him what you’ve heard and what I’ve said. So I went over to talk to John Eisenberg about this.
After that, the Democrats were off to the races. But it was really just a false start. Bolton quickly signaled that he would not honor a congressional subpoena for his testimony and House impeachment investigators quickly buckled—without even attempting to serve Bolton a subpoena.
The Democratic Party’s inextricable pre-surrender—though typical but surprising in the Bolton case—has been questioned by critics right- and left-wing ever since. And by the witnesses who actually bothered to show up and testify against their own boss.
CNN’s Kylie Atwood noted: “Multiple sources voiced their frustration at both sides of the aisle—wishing that the Democrats had developed a stronger case and that Republicans had more seriously looked at the actions Trump had taken.”
Still, the officials who spoke with the outlet said, they were glad to stand up and be counted. It was their duty to do so.
But some worried about retaliation and tarring from Trump and his supporters.
“It is now a part of my identity,” the first cited witness said. “I worry about that.”
One diplomat who testified was more direct.
“If he is reelected, he will feel emboldened,” they said, “and this is where he could go after what he deemed the ‘Deep State.'”
[image via Alex Wong/Getty Images]