Convicting The Bastard-- The Witnesses

Will John Bolton Testify? by Nancy Ohanian

Nancy Ohanian sent me the drawing above unbidden. She sensed something important was happening. A few weeks ago, The Mooch predicated that if the Senate started calling witnesses who were close to Trump and could speak, under oath, to how he operates and what his motivations are, we would be forced to resign. The Mooch gets a little hyperbolic and resigning isn't exactly what I expect from Trump, but I suspect that there are at least 5-10% of his supporters who are getting wobbly on a second term and could be persuaded-- even if just to stay home.

Yesterday, writing for, Ben Tracy and Kathryn Watson reported that the Trumpist regime is expecting some Republicans to break with Trump and vote for calling witnesses. "Senior White House officials," they wrote, "tell CBS News they increasingly believe that at least four Republicans, and likely more, will vote to call witnesses. In addition to Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine, Mitt Romney of Utah and possibly Cory Gardner of Colorado, the White House also views Rand Paul of Kentucky as a 'wild card' and Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee as an 'institutionalist' who might vote to call witnesses, as one official put it."

I expect Collins and Murkowski to do so, but Gardner is a political coward who is too scared to vote against Trump. As for Rand Paul-- all hot air and no bite. Lamar Alexander is retiring and has nothing to lose, so I suspect he could be the 4th horseman of Trump's apocalypse.

Last week, Collins said she was working with a "fairly small group" of GOP senators to allow new testimony, adding that her colleagues "should be completely open to calling witnesses." Romney has expressed an interest in hearing from former national security adviser John Bolton, who has said he would testify under subpoena. Murkowski said last week that the Senate should proceed as it did during the 1999 Clinton impeachment trial.

Gardner and Alexander have both said the Senate trial should be fair and impartial. Paul has said the president should be able to call his own witnesses, including the whistleblower whose complaint about Ukraine sparked the impeachment inquiry in the first place.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said the question of whether to call new witnesses in the trial would be decided by the full Senate after the trial gets underway. A simple majority of 51 votes will be needed to approve motions to call witnesses, meaning Democrats would need to convince four out of the 53 Republicans in the Senate to vote with them to compel testimony.

The House is expected to vote this week on a resolution to name impeachment managers and transmit the two articles to the Senate, a necessary step before the trial can begin. Democrats had previously demanded McConnell agree to allow testimony from witnesses, including four administration officials, before transmitting the articles.

The White House officials, who were not authorized to speak publicly, reiterated the president's intention to claim executive privilege if necessary to block Bolton from testifying. Mr. Trump told Fox News last week that he would likely do so to "protect the office." While Bolton could testify about some events that would fall outside the scope of executive privilege, the White House would fight to prevent Bolton from discussing direct conversations with the president.

One senior official said the White House's impeachment team and counsel's office do not expect a quick dismissal of the impeachment articles in the Senate, despite the president's weekend tweet in which he said Republicans should vote to throw the articles out. Some Republican senators have introduced a proposal to change Senate rules and simply dismiss the articles.

"Many believe that by the Senate giving credence to a trial based on the no evidence, no crime, read the transcripts, 'no pressure' Impeachment Hoax, rather than an outright dismissal, it gives the partisan Democrat Witch Hunt credibility that it otherwise does not have. I agree!" the president tweeted Sunday.

White House officials said the optics of a vote to dismiss would be tough for Republicans, but White House lawyers do expect the question of acquittal to come up immediately following opening arguments and periods for written questions submitted by senators.

The president has offered various opinions about how he would like a Senate trial to proceed, while at the same time nodding and deferring to the Senate. He has also said he would like to hear from the whistleblower, along with House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff and Joe and Hunter Biden. However, motions to call them as witnesses are unlikely to succeed, even though Republicans hold the majority in the upper chamber;

Meanwhile the Trumpist regime has ordered Moscow Mitch to end the trial before any witnesses are called, what Democrats are already referring to as a "cover-up." What Trump wants is a quick round of opening arguments followed by an immediate motion to dismiss, which only takes 51 votes. CNN reported late yesterday that "moving ahead with a dismissal vote could put Republicans up for reelection in a tough spot if they are seen as moving too quickly to dismiss the case. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell could not afford to lose more than two votes-- and GOP sources say the Kentucky Republican currently does not have enough votes to simply dismiss the case. McConnell has made clear to his colleagues that he wants Trump to emerge victorious in the trial and is not willing to hold a vote that could fail, sources said. He's also keenly aware of what a vote to dismiss would look like politically, according to Republican senators, and has shepherded his conference away from the idea for several weeks.

Once the trial has begun, the Senate can vote on the merits of the articles of impeachment and choose to acquit Trump, something that can be done with only 34 votes because the Constitution requires 67 votes to convict the President and remove him from office. GOP proponents of this move argue Trump would have a stronger argument to say he was exonerated on the merits of the case, rather than simply relying on a procedural vote to dismiss the charges. Trump, though, might have to wait longer for a vote on acquittal to occur.

Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican and member of McConnell's leadership team, said Monday he would prefer a vote to acquit the President on the merits, rather than seek a quick vote to dismiss the charges. "That would be my advice. Let both sides have their say and have their vote."

And Cornyn downplayed a weekend tweet from Trump calling for an "outright dismissal."

"At different times, the President has expressed different views," Cornyn said. "I wouldn't get too distracted by an intervening tweet."

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