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Opinion The impeachment evidence will catch up to Republicans and Trump — whether they ignore it or not

President Trump at the White House on Jan. 17.
President Trump at the White House on Jan. 17. (Oliver Contreras/For The Washington Post)

DONALD TRUMP’S presidency has been, among other things, a war against truth. So it’s fitting that in making the case for his removal from office this week, House impeachment managers showered the Senate with facts. Over and over again, Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) and his co-managers laid out the hard evidence that Mr. Trump used presidential powers to pressure Ukraine into announcing investigations that would aid his reelection campaign, and that he engaged in unprecedented obstruction of Congress’s subsequent investigation.

Videos of testimony and damning statements by Mr. Trump, as well as images of revealing text messages among administration officials, were exhibited repeatedly on the Senate floor, prompting some Republicans to complain that they were being forced to rehear the same pieces of evidence. So be it: GOP senators intent on exonerating the president without bothering to fairly consider the case against him should at least be forced to face the reality of his abuses. Meanwhile, busy Americans who took the time to tune in to the proceedings for even an hour or two between Wednesday and Friday likely heard a substantial version of the case.

The latest Trump impeachment trial updates

Several strands of the managers’ argument struck us as particularly on point. One presentation laid out a 10-point proof that in pressuring Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Mr. Trump was pursuing not U.S. foreign policy but his private interests. The campaign was orchestrated by his lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, who said publicly that he was seeking to benefit Mr. Trump, not the country. Mr. Giuliani convinced Mr. Trump that there was dirt to be found in Ukraine on Joe Biden; but a presentation by Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-Tex.) demolished the claim that Mr. Biden acted improperly when, as vice president, he sought the ouster of a corrupt Ukrainian prosecutor.

President Trump's impeachment defense could create a dangerous precedent, says constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley. (Video: The Washington Post, Photo: Jacquelyn Martin/AP/The Washington Post)

There were some gaps in the Democratic case, particularly on the withholding of military aid to Ukraine. The House’s evidence shows that the suspension was Mr. Trump’s decision and that he stuck to it in spite of a unanimous finding by an interagency review that it be lifted. But the only firsthand testimony that he acted to leverage the political investigations he wanted came from a news conference by acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, whom Mr. Trump has prevented from testifying.

Mr. Schiff made clear the extent to which those gaps exist because of Mr. Trump’s stonewalling, and reminded senators that they have the power to remedy them. Wouldn’t they like to read a memo the acting ambassador in Ukraine sent to the secretary of state about the suspended military aid?, he asked. Wouldn’t it be useful to hear former national security adviser John Bolton explain what he meant when he said Mr. Mulvaney and a U.S. ambassador were “cooking up” a “drug deal” with the Ukrainians?

What’s next in the impeachment trial

Mr. Schiff pointed out that, whether or not GOP senators demand relevant testimony and documents during the trial, more facts will eventually come out. Those who choose now to disregard the evidence against Mr. Trump and abet his obstruction will be reduced to watching in the months and years to come as the case against him — and against their abdication of constitutional duty — grows steadily stronger.

Read more:

Jennifer Rubin: House managers deliver a constitutional lesson

The Post’s View: Trump’s impeachment defense is designed to destroy guardrails on presidential power

Greg Sargent: Damning new audio of Trump illuminates the Ukraine scandal’s back alleys

Jonathan Turley: Impeachment managers must now choose the disastrous or the unpalatable

Danielle Allen: Why Hunter Biden’s testimony would be a service to the country

The latest commentary on the Trump impeachment

Looking for more Trump impeachment coverage following the president’s acquittal?

See Dana Milbank’s Impeachment Diary: Find all the entries in our columnist’s feature.

Get the latest: See complete Opinions coverage from columnists, editorial cartoonists and the Editorial Board.

Read the most recent take from the Editorial Board: It’s not over. Congress must continue to hold Trump accountable.

The House impeachment managers weigh in in an op-ed: Trump won’t be vindicated. The Senate won’t be, either.

Stay informed: Read the latest reporting and analysis on impeachment from the Post newsroom.

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