Mitch McConnell set up the rules for the Senate’s current impeachment hearing so that there would be an early vote on whether to call witnesses, or simply proceed to an up or down vote on impeachment. Either way, the result is foreordained, just as the impeachment process itself was foreordained when the Democrats captured the House in 2018. The president will be exonerated.
The vote on whether to proceed with witnesses apparently will take place on Friday. I assume that McConnell thought it would be easy to get 51 votes in favor of terminating the Senate proceeding, but John Bolton’s ill-timed and ill-advised tell-all book has thrown a monkey wrench into that plan. The White House has gone after Bolton, entirely appropriately, in my view, as with President Trump’s tweets:
….many more mistakes of judgement, gets fired because frankly, if I listened to him, we would be in World War Six by now, and goes out and IMMEDIATELY writes a nasty & untrue book. All Classified National Security. Who would do this?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 29, 2020
I was never a big Bolton fan, and now have lost whatever respect I once had for him.
Four Republicans need to betray the President, their party and the American people to allow the impeachment farce to continue. The New York Post thinks it is too close to call. What infuriates me is Mitt Romney’s attitude:
“I think it’s important to hear from Mr. Bolton,” Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) told reporters Wednesday.
No, actually, it isn’t important. Nothing Bolton says about President Trump’s desire to have Ukraine conduct investigations into 1) Ukrainian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, and 2) corruption in the Obama/Biden administration, could possibly make out an impeachable offense. The whole thing is a bad joke, and the sooner it is put out of its misery, the better.
The Hill is a little more optimistic: “GOP senators believe they have the votes to block witnesses.”
It was clear to Senate Republicans on Wednesday after a morning meeting between Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) that the question of having additional witnesses is settled, and the Senate will vote Friday to wrap up the impeachment trial of President Trump.
There was no discussion of witnesses at a Senate GOP lunch meeting Wednesday, which was held a couple hours after McConnell and Murkowski met for about 20 to 30 minutes.
That was seen as a sign by several senators that Democrats will fail to convince four Republicans to join them in calling for witnesses. Without a vote to hear from witnesses, the trial could end as soon as Friday.
“We’re going to get it done by Friday, hopefully,” Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) said following the meeting.
Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.), emerging from the lunch, said, “I think I can say the mood is good.”
I hope that assessment is correct. It certainly deserves to be. The Democrats had all the opportunity they wanted to prove their case, such as it is, in the House, where they–and only they!–could call whatever witnesses they chose. The fact that these witnesses had nothing significant to say is hardly the President’s fault. And John Bolton’s sour grapes add nothing to what we already know. So let’s hope the Senate does its duty on Friday.
Two final observations. First, the White House is touting this 2019 video of John Bolton talking about Ukraine and the president’s meeting with President Zelensky. I don’t know whether it specifically contradicts anything in his book, but its tone is quite different from the Democrats’ portrayal of Bolton’s hypothetical testimony:
Adam Schiff: "Ask John Bolton."
John Bolton in 2019: @realDonaldTrump's phone calls with President Zelensky were "very warm and cordial… the success of Ukraine … [maintaining] a free market economy free of corruption … is high priorit[y] of the US" pic.twitter.com/w6lAuDCKmR
— Steve Guest (@SteveGuest) January 29, 2020
Second, President Trump was correct in calling on Ukraine’s government to investigate both Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election, as reported by Politico in January 2017, and corruption in the Obama/Biden administration involving the natural gas company Burisma. Both of those matters should have been investigated before now, but it is not too late. I hope that before long, President Zelensky’s administration will look into them.