The reasons not to call witnesses — it takes too long, we have decided the president can do whatever he wants, we don’t need more facts because right now there are not enough facts to convict — reflect the slothful and cringeworthy state of Senate Republicans, who have embraced willful blindness to avoid crossing their cult leader. To avoid embarrassing him with potentially devastating evidence, Republicans seem poised to embarrass themselves when former national security adviser John Bolton releases his book or gives a news conference or interview, thereby releasing the evidence they now seek to hide.
President Trump’s attorneys don’t bother to make cogent arguments any longer. Alan Dershowitz, spooked by the blowback to the assertion that a president can do anything to get reelected, tried to crawl back into the universe of constitutional government Thursday. However, he still insists that as long as there is at least a mixed motive for the president’s actions, he cannot be impeached. So call Bolton and ask if Trump ever confessed he was holding up aid to go after a political rival.
In arguing that it was perfectly appropriate for a foreign power to investigate a U.S. citizen, a political rival at that, Republicans open the door to presidential deference to our enemies in exchange for dirt on rivals. Quite simply, if you go to a foreign intelligence operation to do what you cannot rightfully ask U.S. law enforcement agencies to do, you are by definition acting out of corrupt motives. Why not call Bolton to ask him if he or others explained to the president that the conspiracy theories on which he based his request were phony and that going to a foreign power was possibly illegal? Did the president willfully ignore every bit of legal advice?
Bolton’s testimony could be completed in a day, and Republicans could then feel free to abide by the dictates of their leader. (Remember earlier in the week when they insisted they were offended by the suggestion Trump could bully them?)
Ultimately, a sham trial will do nothing to exonerate Trump in the eyes of Americans outside the cult, but a fake trial without witnesses could be quite enough to convince voters that Republicans are incapable of carrying out their oaths, disloyal to our democratic system, open to foreign domination and generally unworthy of elected office. At least we are clear that there is presently only one pro-Constitution, pro-national sovereignty party.