What the Democrats needed to have any realistic shot at getting witnesses in the impeachment trial was a miracle. Well, it looks like they might have gotten it. The New York Times reports the following:
President Trump told his national security adviser in August that he wanted to continue freezing $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine until officials there helped with investigations into Democrats including the Bidens, according to an unpublished manuscript by the former adviser, John R. Bolton. The president’s statement as described by Mr. Bolton could undercut a key element of his impeachment defense: that the holdup in aid was separate from Mr. Trump’s requests that Ukraine announce investigations into his perceived enemies…
This is big. An indefinite freeze on almost four hundred million dollars in military aid to a nation struggling to keep Russia at bay is staggering. I also think this leak is not a mistake. Whether leaked by Bolton himself or just someone with a draft of his book, the timing couldn’t be better. With the Republican-led Senate poised to acquit Trump as early as next week, the Democrats needed something for a final push to get wavering Republican Senators to call witnesses. But can they parlay this news into getting witnesses?
The trouble is that Mitch McConnell will be especially uninterested in calling Bolton to testify. His mission is to get Trump acquitted, and calling Bolton will, at least theoretically, make his job harder. The Democrats will have to be seriously crafty here — they’ll have to somehow coax some Republican Senators into becoming vocal supporters of calling witnesses and simultaneously work on getting Bolton and favorable terms for the testimony. It’s a lot to juggle in a Senate controlled by the chelonian cryptkeeper himself.
All this raises the question: to what end? Will twenty Republican Senators flip sides and vote to remove from office? Sadly, no. I strongly doubt any event could realistically engender that response. However, the more evidence against Trump, the better. It gives Democrats ammunition; it builds a narrative. From a Bolton testimony, they can even more easily say that Trump is a crook, that he’s a liar, and that he’s dangerous. Fuel for 2020.
Mr. Bolton, I strongly doubt you’ll ever read this, but I ask you one thing: if you get to testify, tell America the unfiltered, ugly truth. History will look favorably on you. The future of this country depends on whether Trump stays in office, and you might have a chance to change our trajectory for the better.