For the sake of argument, allow me to stretch your imagination a bit. Let’s pretend that the president and his enablers are not lying: Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian President Zelensky was “perfect” and he did nothing wrong. Having been impeached wrongly and facing a Senate trial that could remove him from office, wouldn’t any human being pull out all the stops in their defense?
Nothing demonstrates Trump’s guilt more powerfully than his attempt to obstruct Congress and stop any of his staff from testifying during the Senate trial. That is just common sense. And yet, we seem to be living in an era when that kind of rational argument makes no difference to the president’s enablers. It’s, frankly, a bit crazy-making.
The case of John Bolton is a perfect example. During the House hearings, the White House issued a directive banning all administration staff from testifying—including Bolton. The claim was that impeachment was a hoax and the president exerted executive privilege to shut down any attempts to investigate what happened.
After Trump was impeached by the House, John Bolton announced that he was willing to testify in the Senate trial. Now Senate Majority Leader McConnell is doing everything he can to block that from happening. To justify those attempts, the president simply lied, unabashedly.
They didn’t want John Bolton and others in the House. They were in too much of a rush. Now they want them all in the Senate. Not supposed to be that way!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 20, 2020
It was the president and his lawyers that blocked Bolton from testifying in the House. But Trump is counting on his supporters’ willingness to believe anything he says (or tweets).
There is no reason to block Bolton from testifying, except that he will probably make it clear that Trump is guilty. You don’t need a degree in logic to understand what’s going on. Here is what Rep. Adam Schiff said about that during the Senate trial on Tuesday.
"[Bolton] is willing to come and testify and tell you what he knows. The question is: Do you want to hear it?…
You should want to know…[Trump] doesn't want you to know. Can you really live up to the oath you've taken to be impartial and not know? I don't think you can." pic.twitter.com/lMA0a27DXu
— CAP Action (@CAPAction) January 21, 2020
But it gets even worse. Knowing that McConnell might not be able to block Bolton from testifying, Trump’s legal team has come up with a plan B.
President Trump’s legal defense team and Senate GOP allies are quietly gaming out contingency plans should Democrats win enough votes to force witnesses to testify in the impeachment trial, including an effort to keep former national security adviser John Bolton from the spotlight, according to multiple officials familiar with the discussions…
One option being discussed, according to a senior administration official, would be to move Bolton’s testimony to a classified setting because of national security concerns, ensuring that it is not public.
Some of us remember that it was only three months ago that Republicans protested the fact that the House Intelligence Committee was taking depositions in a secure setting behind closed doors. They were demanding transparency.
The transcripts from those depositions were eventually released and the House held open hearings for the witnesses to testify publicly—something Republicans always knew was going to happen. But if 51 members of the Senate vote to hear Bolton’s testimony, plan B from Trump’s lawyers is to take it behind closed doors so that the public can’t hear it, once again demonstrating their hypocrisy.
To reiterate, none of that makes any sense if Trump is innocent. The only reason to be that scared of Bolton’s public testimony is if you are sure that it will be the linchpin that forces even the Republicans to admit that Trump is guilty.