Since Saturday, the U.S. Senate has heard President Donald Trump’s legal team defend his case in this impeachment trial. But as we expected, his defense was rooted in anything but the laws or the facts. And as has gradually become the case during his presidency, another ex-apparatchik has flipped and come forward to confirm the mountain of evidence that points to Trump’s involvement in a multinational corruption crime spree.
But really, does any of this matter? Only if you say it does.
Wait, why are we talking about John Bolton again?
Last week, we took a closer look at former Trump-Giuliani “bag man” Lev Parnas and his sudden flip to confirm prior reporting that President Donald Trump himself was always at the center of this criminal conspiracy to shake down the Ukrainian government for his benefit and in the service of others in their larger transnational crime syndicate. This week, another ex-Trump official is publicly confirming all this.
Yesterday, The New York Times reported that former National Security Adviser John Bolton wrote in his drafted memoir In the Room Where It Happened that Trump personally ordered the freeze of $391 million in military aid for Ukraine unless and until the Ukrainian government open a criminal investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, despite the lack of evidence that either Biden committed any crime.
In addition to confirming Trump’s own role in attempting to force a foreign government to campaign for him, Bolton also confirmed that Trump conspired with his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani to remove Marie Yovanovitch as U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine for supporting anti-corruption measures that target many of Giuliani’s clients and associates. Just before The Times uncovered this draft of Bolton’s memoir, PBS NewsHour released a video of Trump saying about Yovanovitch, “Get rid of her! Get her out tomorrow. […] Take her out. OK? Do it.”
Wait, why won’t Senate Republicans call John Bolton as a witness?
Since John Bolton has been hinting for some time that he knows where Trump’s and Giuliani’s proverbial bodies are buried, and now that we’re seeing the roadmap he’s been keeping on file all along, one would think that most of the Senators who are currently serving as jurors in Trump’s impeachment trial want to hear directly from Bolton on what he knows.
On one hand, Senators Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) have suggested that Bolton’s new(ish?) revelation will result in him testifying as a witness at the trial. But on the other hand, the vast majority of Republican Senators seem all too happy to dismiss all the evidence against Trump because they’d rather keep the trial “boring” than risk retaliation from the White House.
When it comes to witnesses, there’s still no guarantee that Bolton will testify at all. Thus far, Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pennsylvania) is floating the possibility of Bolton testifying, but only if Democrats agree to Republicans calling an additional witness, probably someone with the last name of Biden. But since Joe Biden has already refused to accept any kind of “one-for-one witness deal”, as he and his campaign aren’t interested in Trump’s impeachment trial turning to an extended Trump campaign attack ad against Biden, it’s far from certain whether the Senate will agree to call any witnesses.
As per usual, it’s on us (meaning you, too!) to do something about it.
Considering the mountain of evidence against him, it’s not really a surprise that Trump’s legal defense team have based their arguments on rhetoric instead of facts. Still, it’s been jarring to see the very individuals at the center of then President Bill Clinton’s impeachment in 1998 and 1999 turn around and denounce the “age of impeachment”.
So once again, Trump is deploying the “weapons of mass distraction” that have come to define his presidency. This is why he and his lawyers are working to turn this trial into a muddled mess of conspiracy theories involving John Bolton, Joe and Hunter Biden, Barack and Michelle Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Jeffrey Epstein, the CIA, the Ukrainian government, the British Royal Family, Bigfoot, Sasquatch, the Loch Ness Monster, the Bermuda Triangle, Area 51, and whoever/whatever else they can grab hold of.
As they did for now Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his Supreme Court confirmation process some 16 months ago, Republican leaders want to turn this into such a messy s–tshow that the inside process reverts to the usual partisan divide while the majority of American voters loosely observing from the outside just dismiss all of it as “the same old Washington politics”. And just like they gambled on in 2016 (and narrowly won), Trump’s reelection campaign is betting that our increasingly polarized and compartmentalized media environment will ease the spread of the very Kremlin propaganda at the heart of this impeachment trial and contain the spread of real, factual evidence.
Since Republican leaders have been signaling all along how they plan to end this trial, they’re basically forcing you the voters to decide whether or not America will tolerate these crimes. Will “We the People” allow this type of corruption and autocracy to become our “new normal”, as Vladmir Putin has accomplished so far in Russia, or will we actually do something about it? As fun as the “#WeMatter Parade” can feel, there’s ultimately a very serious crisis at the heart of this year’s election that we’ll have to choose whether to solve or exacerbate.