Cowardly bid to hide truth

A major hiccup has been introduced into Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s plans for a speedy acquittal of President Donald Trump at his impending impeachment trial. Former national security adviser John Bolton says he is prepared to testify if subpoenaed. McConnell, with a big assist by Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley, was all but prepared to declare the impeachment process dead.

Until Bolton’s announcement Monday, GOP leaders had convinced themselves that weeks of House testimony by former and current administration officials — describing multiple ways in which Trump abused his presidential power — really amounted to nothing. Senate Republicans had been hoping and praying that no new testimony or evidence would surface to derail their plans to acquit Trump and be done with this entire impeachment mess.

Nothing would sway them from their drive to declare Trump innocent — not even an official White House transcript that made clear Trump pressured Ukraine’s president into digging up dirt against Trump’s likely 2020 Democratic presidential opponent. They wouldn’t be swayed by a batch of unredacted emails uncovered last week in which defense and budget officials discussed the withholding of military aid to Ukraine, with one key official stating that there was “clear direction from POTUS (Trump) to continue to hold.”

The last thing Senate Republicans wanted was the prospect of testimony from someone with undeniable credibility. Bolton was in the room when many of the Ukraine discussions occurred between Trump and other top administration officials. Former aides described Bolton as harshly critical of the pressure being applied on Ukraine. Bolton has not denied witness testimony quoting him referring to the Ukraine affair and ridiculing Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, as “a hand grenade who’s going to blow everybody up.”

Bolton’s conservative credentials are impeccable. He resigned abruptly on Sept. 10 as details of the Ukraine aid suspension were surfacing publicly. Bolton’s public dispute with Trump over the reasons for his White House departure accented the possibility that Bolton would not offer flattering versions of Trump’s involvement in the Ukraine affair if subpoenaed to testify.

That’s exactly why McConnell is likely to do anything he can to circumvent the possibility. Hawley offered help Monday by introducing a resolution allowing the Senate to dispense with the trial altogether if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi continues to delay delivery of the articles of impeachment.

And why is she delaying? Because Pelosi says she wants to ensure that the Senate will hear testimony and conduct a fair trial instead of railroading this proceeding to acquittal, as McConnell has indicated he plans to do.

Despite McConnell’s and Hawley’s antics, the American people deserve to hear what Bolton has to say. Anything short of that would expose these Republican ploys for what they are: a cowardly bid, at all costs, to hide the truth from the American public.

* Guest editorial from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.


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