Bolton Willing to Testify; GOP Doesn’t Care, Continues with Trump Non-Defense

The U.S. presidential election is only 276 days away. Americans have no way of knowing how secure the ballot boxes will be. This is because as of Friday morning, January 31, it looks as if the Senate, during its impeachment trial, will acquit Donald J. Trump, who is accused of behavior that threatens the integrity of U.S. presidential elections.

The articles of impeachment against Trump are based on charges that Trump put pressure on Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskiy to open an investigation into Trump’s political rival, former vice president Joe Biden, and Biden’s son, Hunter, by withholding $391 million in already approved military aid.

The week started with revelations from the manuscript of former U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton’s upcoming book, The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir. According to The New York Times, the manuscript contains details of President Trump’s phone call with Zelenskiy. Bolton has said that Trump told him directly that he was placing a hold on the aid until Zelenskiy announced the investigation Trump requested.

During the earlier impeachment hearings that took place in the House, Bolton had not shown up for a requested deposition before the House Intelligence Committee. If the House issued him a subpoena, Bolton said, he would take the matter to court. In early January, however, Bolton said that he’d be willing to give testimony in the Senate impeachment trial, if requested.

The question and answer phase of the impeachment trial has taken place this week, with Senators submitting questions for either side (in lieu of questioning actual witnesses and without benefit of relevant documents), to be read aloud by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. The questions seemed largely aimed at restating the positions of those asking them, rather than discovering information.

Avoiding, or unable, to produce a substantial defense for the president, Trump’s defense team has turned instead to using distraction techniques, including focusing on such topics as Joe and Hunter Biden’s activities; the debunked myth that it was Ukraine, not Russia, who interfered with the 2016 election; and the “great economy under Trump.” Finally, they settled on the position that even if Trump did do what he’s accused of, he did nothing wrong, because he’s the president. Or, at the very least, he shouldn’t be impeached because it would be “too disruptive.”

Alan Dershowitz, a member of the Trump defense team, put forth an argument that many interpreted as saying that the law gives the president nearly unchallenged presidential power.

“If a president does something which he believes will help him get elected in the public interest, that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment,” Dershowitz said.

But what politician doesn’t think that being elected is in the public interest? One can draw one’s own conclusions about how far a politician could go to get elected if he or she could do anything without being kept in check.

On Friday, the Senate will vote on whether to call witnesses. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer pointed out that the Trump defense team was making the case for calling witnesses with its argument that there was not sufficient evidence of wrongdoing to remove the president from office. And as of Thursday, it appeared that the defense had enough votes to block witnesses.

Republicans are united in their efforts to support Trump by blocking witnesses and documents pertinent to the trial, ostensibly to “wrap it up” quickly (“for the sake of the American people”).

Meanwhile, the White House has reviewed Bolton’s manuscript and issued a formal threat to Bolton in an effort to prevent him from publishing his book, saying that some of the information was classified at “top secret” level, could cause grave harm to national security, and “may not be published or otherwise disclosed without the deletion of this classified information.”

One has to wonder why the White House is scrambling to protect this information as a “security threat,” when the president, through his public actions, words, disclosures, and tweets, regularly threatens national security.

As expected, Trump has begun his Twitter attacks on Bolton’s credibility, integrity, and reputation. Among his most notable was this:

“For a guy who couldn’t get approved for the Ambassador to the U.N. years ago, couldn’t get approved for anything since, “begged” me for a non Senate approved job, which I gave him despite many saying “Don’t do it, sir,” takes the job, mistakenly says “Libyan Model” on T.V., and…

” ….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?”

Trump’s attacks are reminiscent of other attacks and threats he has made toward those he sees as having crossed him. These include former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, both of whom gave testimony during the House impeachment hearings; the whistleblower who first reported the troubling content of Trump’s call to Ukraine; former FBI director James Comey; and others.

If the Senate votes on Friday to hear witnesses, Trump has said he may try to invoke executive privilege to block Bolton from testifying. Legal experts, however, are saying that Trump may have undermined executive privilege with his tweets describing his conversations with Bolton regarding Ukraine.

Despite the fact that 75 percent of voters want the Senate to call witnesses, Republicans appear eager to eschew any new evidence that could change someone’s mind, and keep repeating, “Let the American people decide at the voting booths.” And this, we must be sure to do.

President Trump’s Impeachment Trial Has 16-Hour Q&A |
Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon [2020-01-30]

EXCLUSIVE: House Impeachment managers make their case on HillTV |
The Hill [2020-01-30]

Impeachment Trial Begins as Trump Himself Provides Obstruction Evidence

In 283 days, American voters will decide who they want to be president. Some voters will also decide who they want to represent them in Congress. GOP Congressional lawmakers appear to have let that, along with their fealty to Donald Trump, take precedence over even their oaths of office as they participate in the impeachment proceedings against Trump.

The impeachment trial in the Senate is far from over, however, and those Senators who are up for re-election may be finding themselves in quite a spot. As of this week, a CNN poll found that 51 percent of Americans say that the Senate should elect to remove Donald Trump from office during the Senate impeachment trial. Sixty-nine percent of Americans are in support of obtaining testimony from witnesses who did not appear during the House impeachment hearings. Fifty-eight percent of Americans surveyed said that Trump abused the power of his presidency for improper personal political gain (the first article of impeachment), and 57 percent say that Trump obstructed Congress in its impeachment investigation (the second article of impeachment).

As the impeachment trial began in the Senate on Tuesday, January 22, the first segment stretched until 2 am. Some speculate that the late hours were by GOP Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell’s design: How many Americans would be tuned in then to watch?

Democrat House managers prosecuting the case presented amendments in support of bringing witnesses and allowing new evidence that was uncovered after the impeachment took place in the House. Republican Senators voted each amendment down.

The Senate adopted ground rules, and a vote down party lines determined that the Senate will delay a decision as to whether to bring witnesses until after most of the proceedings. A key witness for the prosecution would include former Trump National Security Advisor John Bolton. Each side will be allowed a total of 24 hours over three days to present their opening arguments.

Trump’s defense attorneys tried repeatedly to allege that the House impeachment managers, by asking to admit evidence and witnesses that were not part of the House hearings (mainly because Trump blocked witnesses from appearing and refused to provide any requested documents), showed that they were “not prepared” for the Senate trial.

House managers argued the absurdity of this claim, reminding them that the White House had in fact blocked evidence and witnesses in the House.

On Wednesday and Thursday, the second and third day of the impeachment trial, House Managers presented their opening arguments. Thursday was “Abuse of Power Day,” during which the House impeachment managers presented the case for Trump’s abuse of his presidential power in his dealings with Ukraine (one of two articles of impeachment against Trump). House impeachment managers will focus on the second article of impeachment, obstruction of Congress, on Friday.

Evidence supporting this second article was provided by Trump himself this week, when, from the World Economic Forum in Davos, he boasted (regarding the impeachment trial and the withholding of material from Congress), “We’re doing very well…Honestly, we have all the material. They don’t have the material.”

House manager Val Demings (D-Fla.) tweeted, “The second article of impeachment was for obstruction of Congress: covering up witnesses and documents from the American people. This morning the President not only confessed to it, he bragged about it.”

While offering no pithy defense of Trump, Republican lawmakers only appear able to stonewall, use false logic, and challenge the process instead of challenging the actual allegations. They seem to want the public to heed their message of “Move along folks. Nothing to see here…” It’s not that there’s nothing to see, it’s just that there’s nothing they want Americans to look at too closely.

Incidentally, Trump broke his Twitter record on Wednesday this week, with 142 tweets and retweets, mainly deriding the impeachment process.

Trump continued this week to set records by also setting one in the Lack of Fitness to Be Commander in Chief category. During a press conference in Davos, he downplayed the concussive head injuries 11 American soldiers had sustained from blasts during an Iran missile strike on the Ain al-Asad air base in Iraq. The strike was in retaliation for a Trump-ordered drone strike that killed Iran’s most powerful general, Qasem Soleimani.

In addressing the troops’ potential traumatic brain injuries (TBI), Trump said, “I heard that they had headaches, and a couple of other things… But I would say, and I can report, that it is not very serious.”

When a reporter pressed “So you don’t consider potential traumatic brain injury serious?”

Trump went on to say, “”I don’t consider them very serious injuries relative to other injuries that I’ve seen.”

It should be noted that Trump has also mocked new NFL rules for preventing concussions, after research has shown the possible dire consequences of TBI. In 2016 at a campaign rally, Trump said, “We don’t go by these new, and very much softer, NFL rules. Concussions—’Uh oh, got a little ding on the head? No, no, you can’t play for the rest of the season’—our people are tough.”

As the week ends, Trump’s legal team is expected to begin its defense presentation on Saturday. Very few Americans hold out hope that the Senate will remove Donald J. Trump from office, but as the above survey results indicate, a small majority believes that the impeachment process was the right thing to do. The next opportunity for the right thing to do will come when Americans vote on November 3.

President Trump Minimizes Severity Of Troop Head Injuries In Iran Missile Attacks | TIME [2020-01-23]

Trump impeachment trial begins with witness battle | BBC News