• Under the plans, if four Republicans choose to vote with Democrats and admit new witnesses to the trial there will be moves to compel them to testify behind closed doors.
  • Bolton is believed to have valuable insider knowledge about Trump's relations with Ukraine, and has said he will testify if subpoenaed.
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President Donald trump's Senate allies are so concerned about the prospect of former White House national security adviser John Bolton testifying at Trump's impeachment trial that they're drawing up emergency plans, The Washington Post reported.

Under the rules laid out by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the House impeachment managers and Trump's defense team will present their arguments before senators in the opening days of the president's Senate impeachment trial.

Senators will then get to vote on whether or not new evidence should be admitted and new witnesses should be called.

Democrats would likely need four Republican votes to allow them to push for new witnesses, and the Post reports that McConnell is fearful they'll get those votes.

He has, the Post said, drawn up special contingencies to stop any testimony from Bolton being heard in public.

Mitch McConnell
Mitch McConnell
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

If the Senate votes to allow new witnesses, "McConnell is expected to ensure that those individuals are questioned in a closed-door session rather than a public setting," according to the report.

Bolton's deposition could then be moved to "a classified setting because of national security concerns, ensuring that it is not public."

Senators party to the discussions also told the Post that if Bolton were issued with a subpoena to testify, the White House would challenge his decision to appear in court, citing executive privilege.

It's believed to be likely that Bolton has damaging new evidence on Trump's covert campaign to get Ukraine to announce a criminal investigation into domestic rival Joe Biden.

No-one knows exactly how damaging, but with Bolton having said that he will testify if called on finding out is a risk few Republicans seem willing to take.

The president's trial will formally begin on Tuesday in the Senate at 1 p.m. ET.

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