GOP Senator Says John Bolton's Testimony at Trump Trial 'Will Be Redundant'

Senator John Kennedy dismissed as "redundant" John Bolton's potential testimony to the Senate trial on President Donald Trump's Ukraine conduct, saying it will not yield information on what he believes is the core issue: The Bidens.

The corruption allegations against former vice president Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, who sat on the board of a Ukrainian energy company, are a "smear" and a "comprehensively-debunked conspiracy theory," the Biden campaign said in a recent memo.

Bolton, Trump's former national security advisor, has written an unpublished book that, according to The New York Times, claims Trump withheld military aid to pressure Ukraine and its government into opening a corruption investigation into the Bidens.

Democrats want the Senate to call Bolton to testify at Trump's impeachment trial because he has firsthand evidence that may support the allegation the president abused his power by orchestrating the Ukraine scheme to benefit his re-election campaign by tarnishing a rival.

"There's a lot of hysteria about Mr. Bolton's testimony," Kennedy, a Republican from Louisiana, told Fox News host Sean Hannity on Tuesday night. "Frankly, I think his testimony will be redundant."

Some GOP senators suggested they would vote for Bolton to appear as a witness in exchange for testimony from Hunter Biden, son of Joe Biden, whose boardroom role at BurismaHoldings is thought to be a reason Trump wanted a corruption investigation.

"I speak just for me, Sean, but I'm willing to stipulate that Mr. Bolton will likely testify that the president paused aid to Ukraine while asking Ukraine to investigate Vice President Biden," Kennedy said on Fox News.

"And my response to that is: Your point is what? That doesn't tell us anything. Why did the president ask for an investigation of Joe Biden? He didn't ask for an investigation of Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders or Amy Klobuchar.

"He didn't get Joe Biden's name out of the phone book. He asked for an investigation of Vice President Biden because he was investigating corruption. And how do we know that? Four words: Hunter Biden and Burisma."

Kennedy went on to highlight Hunter Biden's business dealings in Ukraine and China, which coincided with his father's time in the White House.

"Now, you know the message that was sent to the rest of the world? That America's foreign policy can be bought like a sack of potatoes," Kennedy told Hannity.

"And I think the president's lawyers have proven clearly and convincingly that the president was not investigating Joe Biden because he was a political rival, he was asking for an investigation of corruption, possible corruption, by the vice president and his son and that is a perfectly legitimate thing for a president to do."

Newsweek has asked the Biden campaign for comment.

"Hunter undertook these business activities independently. He did not believe it appropriate to discuss them with his father, nor did he," said a statement on behalf of Hunter Biden, released in October by his lawyer George Mesires.

"Hunter always understood that his father would be guided, entirely and unequivocally, by established U.S. policy, irrespective of its effects on Hunter's professional interests. This was the standard observed throughout Hunter's professional career.

"When Hunter engaged in his business pursuits, he believed that he was acting appropriately and in good faith. He never anticipated the barrage of false charges against both him and his father by the president of the United States."

Biden is the frontrunner, trailed closely by Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, in the Democratic Party's 2020 race. At the time of the alleged Ukraine scheme in 2015, Biden led the race by some distance and was the likeliest rival to Trump at the coming presidential election, though his advantage has narrowed since.

Trump allegedly conditioned the release of $391 million in military aid for Ukraine, which is battling Russian-backed separatists, and a White House visit for President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Kyiv announcing an unfounded corruption investigation into the Bidens.

The conspiracy theory promoted by Trump's allies claims Joe Biden pressured the Ukrainian government to remove its then prosecutor-general Viktor Shokin to protect his son from an ongoing investigation into Burisma over corruption.

The effort to dig up dirt such as this on Biden in Ukraine was spearheaded by Rudy Giuliani, the president's personal lawyer, who is also under scrutiny for his activities, particularly around the ousting of former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.

In reality, the former vice president pushed Kyiv to ditch Shokin—an effort supported by Western powers and institutions—because of his weakness in prosecuting corruption.

The probe into Burisma had already been shelved at that point and was indicative of this weakness on corruption. The U.S. wanted Ukraine to put in place a robust prosecutor.

Kurt Volker, the former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine, testified in November to the House impeachment inquiry that he "rejected the conspiracy theory that Vice President Biden would have been influenced in his duties as vice president by money paid to his son."

"The allegations against Vice President Biden are self-serving and non-credible," Volker told Congress during his hearing.

GOP sources told the Associated Press that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell privately told colleagues he does not currently have enough votes to block new witnesses, despite a 53-seat Republican majority in the upper house.

The White House has suggested it might try to use executive privilege or national security risks to block Bolton's testimony to the Senate.

John Kennedy Trump trial Senate impeachment Biden
Sen. John Kennedy, Republican from Louisiana, speaks to the media during the Senate impeachment trial at the U.S. Capitol on January 27, 2020 in Washington, DC. The defense team will continue its arguments on day six of the Senate impeachment trial against President Trump. Mario Tama/Getty Images