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Trump says he'd like Bolton, Pompeo to testify but will leave witnesses up to Senate

NBC News logo NBC News 1/22/2020 Shannon Pettypiece

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DAVOS, Switzerland — President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that he would like to see former National Security Adviser John Bolton and other top officials testify at his Senate impeachment trial, but suggested he would block their testimony.

Trump said he'd also like to see testimony from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, and former Energy Secretary Rick Perry, who he said has been asking to testify in the impeachment proceedings. But Trump then argued that he could assert executive privilege to try to block the witnesses if called, saying it could be a national security risk if they shared private conversation they had with the president.

"I would rather go the long way. I would rather interview Bolton. I would rather interview a lot of people. The problem with John is, that it's a national security problem," the president said during an impromptu press conference in Davos, Switzerland, before departing the annual gathering of business executives, financiers and foreign dignitaries.

Bolton "knows some of my thoughts, what I think about leaders, what happens if he reveals what I think about a leader and it's not very positive," he said.

Bolton has said he would be willing to testify, but the Senate hasn't voted yet on whether it will call witnesses after both sides have presented their cases. Trump said he would leave it up to the Senate to decide whether they will call witnesses.

"I'll leave that to the Senate, the Senate is going to have to answer that," Trump said.

Slideshow by photo services

Trump said he had some reservations about Bolton's testimony other than the national security risk because of the circumstances of Bolton's departure from the White House. Trump said in September he fired Bolton after a string of disagreements, announcing the move on Twitter.

Trump has tried to avoid the impeachment fray while here, seeking the appearance of a president hard at work on the world stage.

But the president has been getting regular updates from staffers on the developments back home and watched the proceedings Tuesday from his hotel, said a White House official.

Trump departs Davos Wednesday after less than 36 hours on the ground here. He held meetings with business executives and foreign leaders, including meetings on Wednesday with the president of Kurdistan and the president of Iraq.

He will be touching down in Washington just hours after Democrats have begun their formal oral arguments.

Trump said he would love to attend his own impeachment, but that he didn't think his lawyers would allow that.

"I'd love to go, wouldn't that be great?" Trump said. "I'd love to sit in the front row and stare in their corrupt faces."

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