Opinion

Is Trump Sending John Bolton Some Kind of Secret Message?

National Security Advisor John BoltonSomething weird is going down between President Donald Trump and former national security adviser John Bolton. On Friday, Bolton’s lawyer, Charles J. Cooper, sent a letter to the House of Representatives after Bolton failed to show up for a deposition requested by the impeachment committee the previous day. In the letter, Cooper sent the House two important messages: 1) Bolton has some important things to say to impeachment investigators; and 2) he won’t be saying any of it until a federal court orders him to do so.

Cooper wrote that Bolton, “was personally involved in many of the events, meetings, and conversations about which you have already received testimony, as well as many relevant meetings and conversations that have not yet been discussed in the testimonies thus far.”

The letter drew sharp criticism, both from those inside and outside the government, many calling Bolton’s move a delay tactic or questioning his motives.

Bolton’s choice not to bring forth the highly-relevant information he teased in the letter to the House was deemed by some an unpatriotic move.

President Trump shrugged off any meaning behind Bolton’s refusal give testimony absent a court order. Trump told reporters Friday:

I’m not concerned about anything. The testimony has all been fine. For the most part, I never even heard of these people. I have no idea who they are. They are some very fine people. You have some never Trumpers. It seems that nobody has any firsthand knowledge. There is no firsthand knowledge.

The president may not be “concerned” about Bolton’s potential testimony – but it seems he’s taking to Twitter to endorse Bolton’s patriotism. Early Saturday, Trump retweeted Bolton’s tweet from September 10th, reflecting on the 9/11 attacks and vowing to stand strong against terrorism.

What does it all mean? There are a couple of possibilities, none of which is particularly comforting. Perhaps Trump and Bolton are consciously sending veiled messages to each other via public communications. Alternatively, Trump may be attempting to position himself as the ultimate influencer in an attempt to keep Bolton in his good graces; the hypothetical subpoena upon which Bolton has conditioned any testimony is likely to arrive shortly – and perhaps Trump hopes Bolton may still fight against it in the name of national secuity.

Whatever Donald Trump’s assessment of Bolton’s potential to assist impeachment efforts, there’s no question that Bolton’s admission that he has first-hand knowledge of circumstances directly relevant to the impeachment inquiry is significant. Trump may want to think about doing more than sending out a retweet.

[Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images.]

This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.

Elura is a columnist and trial analyst for Law & Crime. Elura is also a former civil prosecutor for NYC's Administration for Children's Services, the CEO of Lawyer Up, and the author of How To Talk To Your Lawyer and the Legalese-to-English series. She is a frequent media contributor, and is Of Counsel to Smedley & Lis, in Woodbury, New Jersey. Follow Elura on Twitter @elurananos

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