New York Times Scribe Peter Baker Hypes Watergate-Level ‘Smoking Gun’ in Bolton Book

January 28th, 2020 10:34 AM

New York Times chief White House correspondent Peter Baker’s “news analysis” of the Trump impeachment (in Tuesday's lead-story slot) suggested revelations from an unpublished memoir by Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, John Bolton, could be a Watergate-like “smoking gun” -- in normal political times, anyway.

Yet reporters Maggie Haberman and Michael Schmidt, who broke the story blared across Monday’s lead section (“Money To Ukraine Tied To Inquiries, Bolton Book Says”) have evidently not actually read the manuscript themselves but only have sources summarizing what they say it contains:

Multiple people described Mr. Bolton’s account of the Ukraine affair. The book presents an outline of what Mr. Bolton might testify to if he is called as a witness in the Senate impeachment trial, the people said.

Baker eagerly, perhaps prematurely, made his “smoking gun” case: "John Bolton’s Account Upends Trump’s Denials, but Will It Upend Trump?

At first glance, at least, John R. Bolton’s account of President Trump’s private remarks sounds like an echo of the so-called smoking gun tape that proved that President Richard M. Nixon really had orchestrated the Watergate cover-up and ultimately forced him from office. But this is Mr. Trump’s era and Mr. Trump’s Washington, and the old rules do not always apply.

The reality show star who was elected president even after he was captured on an Access Hollywood tape boasting about sexual assault has gone on to survive one revelation after another in the three years since, proving more durable than any national politician in modern American history. So will this be the turning point or just one more disclosure that validates his critics without changing other minds? Will it be another smoking gun or another Access Hollywood?

The news of Mr. Bolton’s account in an unpublished book, first reported by The New York Times, could hardly come at a worse time for Mr. Trump....

But the pressure on the handful of Republican senators who had been wavering on calling witnesses will now increase exponentially....

Wow, the timing of this leak is at a terrible time....just as it was engineered by the Times and their leaking pals. 

Bolton's credentials as a neocon hawk only add to his aura, they now find. 

But Mr. Bolton is a hard witness for Mr. Trump to simply brush off. He is no liberal Democrat or deep-state bureaucrat, nor is he even a Never Trump Republican, but a conservative hawk with years of credibility among Republicans and a strong following from his days as ambassador to the United Nations and Fox News commentator....

Bolton is a recipient of sudden respect. It’s a far cry from how shallowly reporter Jennifer Steinhauer treated Bolton in a 2014 profile:

The only thing that John R. Bolton has tamed is his mustache.” Bolton was part of “the cavalcade of neoconservatives newly emerged on cable television...flirting with an all-but-hopeless campaign for president....

Baker continued:

Mr. Bolton’s account on its face seems to eviscerate a central part of the defense that the White House began presenting on the Senate floor on Saturday. The president’s lawyers hammered House Democrats for relying on secondhand testimony....

Speaking of “secondhand testimony”: Did a Times reporter see the manuscript?