As more evidence has come to light concerning President Trump’s withholding of U.S. aid to Ukraine and the concerns of members of the administration about its effect on national security and dubious legality, the decision by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to delay sending the articles of impeachment to the Senate looks smarter by the day:

The contrary position is laughable. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a reliable apologist for Trump, articulated the ludicrous argument that the Senate can willfully ignore incriminating evidence:

The “stupid game” is that Democrats insist that witnesses and documents, the importance of which has become clear after the House voted to impeach, should be introduced at trial to give the American people a full picture of the evidence.

If, for example, former national security adviser John Bolton declared, in light of the dismissed lawsuit from former deputy national security adviser Charles Kupperman, he was ready to testify on the president’s corrupt motivation in extorting Ukraine, Rubio would rather the senators put their fingers in their ears and hum to block out exposure to definitive evidence. Consider the opposition situation: If exculpatory evidence came to light after the impeachment articles were passed, would not every Republican in the Senate insist that such evidence be presented immediately in a trial?

In a recent poll taken before the latest revelations, 7 in 10 Americans said they wanted to hear from more witnesses. Republicans, especially those vulnerable in 2020 or with a smidgen of conscience, should recognize the demand for hard evidence will be overwhelming as the public learns new evidence that Trump directed the scheme.

The need for a full accounting of the events is strengthened by suspicious efforts to conceal incriminating information. Not only was there substantial concern within the administration that the hold up in aid was illegal, but we now know evidence of that concern was itself concealed. My colleague Aaron Blake reports: “The emails were previously released in redacted form, but many of the redaction choices are puzzling and even suspicious. The redactions include repeated references to legal problems with withholding the aid, basic questions about that subject, and warnings that waiting until too late in the fiscal year (which ended Sept. 30) might mean that some of the funds would never get to Ukraine.”

In a written statement, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) states that “these very documents” were subpoenaed and withheld precisely because they show Trump directed a scheme to withhold aid and that “the White House was was informed doing so may violate the law.” Schiff argues that the new evidence shows evidence of illegality was concealed, that there was no legitimate reason for the hold and that these documents “only represent a small subset” of documents Trump concealed. Schiff concludes that the only possible conclusion is that Trump has concealed documents that leave little doubt he committed impeachable actions.

In sum, we have evidence that may corroborate existing articles of impeachment and serve as the basis for new articles relating to violation of the Impoundment Control Act and conspiracy to violate freedom of information laws (which require the administration to turn over documents with limited exceptions). Pelosi’s hand is therefore strengthened in demanding ground rules that ensure all evidence is presented while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), Rubio and other Republicans appear to be willfully assisting in the cover-up.

Constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe tells me, “The documents made available in unredacted form for the first time destroy any remaining argument for waiting until mid-trial to decide whether witnesses like [Office of Management and Budget official Michael] Duffey, [Defense Secretary Mark T.] Esper, [Secretary of State Mike] Pompeo, [acting White House chief of staff Mick] Mulvaney and Bolton should be called, by subpoena if necessary, to testify at the forthcoming impeachment trial and whether key documents should be demanded from the White House, OMB, the State Department and the Pentagon.” He concludes, “Without such evidence, there can be no credible way even to cast doubt on President Trump’s personal responsibility for withholding vital military aid from Ukraine unless and until President [Volodymyr] Zelensky boxed himself in publicly by announcing an investigation into Biden to help Trump in 2020 and by supporting Putin’s conspiracy theory about 2016.”

It’s Pelosi’s call: Wait until Republican senators end their collaboration in covering up Trump’s misdeeds or conduct further hearings of their own to review new evidence. In either event, she should not send over the articles anytime soon.

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