John Bolton Will Testify If Subpoenaed, So Why Aren't House Dems Doing That?
Credit: Screen Shot
January 9, 2020

I was fighting a cold yesterday, so I thought there were physical reasons why I couldn't seem to grasp the importance of this story, which seemed monumental to everyone else:


But this morning I read Politico Playbook's lead item and I realized that my foggy brain yesterday was imagining precisely what's happened in the aftermath of Bolton's announcement:

WE WERE ALL ATWITTER Monday when JOHN BOLTON popped up on his political action committee’s webpage to say that he would testify if subpoenaed in a Senate trial.

BUT, AT THIS MOMENT, why should we think he’ll testify?

SENATE MAJORITY LEADER MITCH MCCONNELL seems to have his entire conference behind the Clinton rules for impeachment, which required 51 votes to subpoena someone for testimony ... and there was very, very little movement Monday.

AS OUR COLLEAGUES MARIANNE LEVINE and JOHN BRESNAHAN pointed out Monday night, moderate senators are siding with MCCONNELL over Democrats on Bolton’s testimony. Read their story here ... (BTW: At the moment, House Dems don’t seem eager to subpoena Bolton on their own -- which they could do -- and they say it’s the Senate’s duty. If you’re a House Dem and want to hear from Bolton, why not subpoena him? By not subpoenaing him, you’re betting on the Republican Senate.)

EVEN IF, SOMEHOW, the Republican dam does break, don’t you think President DONALD TRUMP will first try to block Bolton by asserting executive privilege, and then try to go to court to prevent him from testifying? And if it goes to court, that could last a long time -- much longer than the Senate trial.

AS OF NOW, we have Sen. MITT ROMNEY (R-Utah) -- who said he’d like to hear from Bolton but wouldn’t commit to a subpoena. What do you believe is more plausible: Romney galvanizing the support of three other Republicans, or McConnell holding onto party unity?

Here's some advice: Stop expecting a melodramatic John Dean moment in this impeachment. There's a tiny chance it will happen, but a Trump-McConnell stonewall that's maintained successfully right to the end is far more likely. The notion that McConnell felt there was "pressure" on him to call witnesses after he learned about Bolton's announcement is laughable -- McConnell doesn't believe Democrats have any concerns that he and his party are bound to respect. Rebuffing Democrats empowers him. The so-called Senate moderates are toothless, and they're still Republicans -- they're still very much committed to the survival of the Republican Party, even at the expense of country or rule of law.

Besides, the Democrats are handing McConnell talking points by continuing to withhold the impeachment articles. I know that we're never supposed to question the tactical brilliance of Nancy Pelosi, but to me this seems more of a blunder every day. Sure, roughly half the country believes Trump deserves impeachment and removal from office -- but independents and swing-state voters are wary of impeachment. It's time for Democrats to put their case on the record -- but they've chosen to play chess instead, and play it even when the other side has the officiating so rigged that it can kick over the board and be declared the winner.

I don't agree with the Republican arguments, but I understand why they might resonate with voters who aren't steeped in politics and aren't motivated to think the worst of Trump and the GOP. Republicans say it makes no sense that Democrats insisted on rushing the impeachment and are now slow-walking the articles. I don't know how I would rebut that if a swing voter said it to me. I don't know how I would explain why House Democrats aren't subpoenaing Bolton right now. I can't explain it because the only explanation I can see for what Pelosi is doing is that she expects McConnell to feel pressure, and that simply won't happen. He's a honey badger. He doesn't give a shit. Add up the voters who fervently defend Trump and the voters who think Trump is a criminal but impeachment is a distraction from the business of passing legislation to help ordinary citizens (which they don't realize McConnell simply won't allow) and McConnell has no reason to budge.

I see this ending in one of two ways: Either Pelosi meekly hands over the articles in a few weeks, having won absolutely no concessions, or she never hands them over and everyone apart from dyed-in-the-wool Trump haters proceeds as if he was never impeached at all. Pelosi may see a third outcome, and maybe you do too, but I'm struggling to imagine it.

Published with permission of No More Mister Nice Blog

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