The big story right now is about the unredacted memos that Kate Brannan at Just Security just got hold of. Included in them is the previously redacted message from OMB associate director Mike Duffey to Elaine McCusker at DOD, sent the day after Bolton, Pompeo, and Esper all met with Trump to try to get him to release the funds to Ukraine as an urgent matter of national security:
“Clear direction from POTUS to continue to hold.”
This isn’t a smoking gun; it’s a smoking cannon. And it won’t be the last one.
It also shows just how far ahead of IMPOTUS and McConnell the Speaker is at this game. She stated when she held up sending the Articles of Impeachment to the Senate that she needs to know what the rules are in order to know who would be the best managers to deal with them. (As I have to point out from time to time, she never said she was waiting for assurances of a fair trial, as that would have left an opening for McConnell to snooker her.) That was and remains a valid reason.
BUT she also knew that more information like this would come out. Just as she knew that Trump would “self-impeach.” McConnell doesn’t want witnesses because he knows what they’ll say, and he doesn’t want documents because he knows what they’ll reveal.
Well, the documents are coming out anyway. Slowly, drip by drip by drip, just like in Chinese water torture. Trump wants a speedy trial and the acquittal he knows the Senate will give him, but he can’t get it until the Speaker releases the Articles. And she won’t do that until McConnell sets the rules. Which McConnell can’t do until he either agrees to allow documents and witnesses, or forces vulnerable GOP senators to agree to an obvious sham trial that will be used against them in the election.
An example of the vulnerability GOP senators are facing is spelled out in Jennifer Rubin’s latest column: Susan Collins sounds like she’s covering for Trump.
It is not practical to delay sending the articles to the Senate indefinitely, but it is reasonable — indeed essential — that the record be completed to the extent possible, making it that much more difficult for the Senate to conduct a kangaroo court. Of course, all of this could be expedited if Collins and a few of her Republican colleagues insisted that all of the relevant witnesses and document be presented in the Senate trial. That, however, would require they drop specious excuses and live up to their oaths as jurors.
While we wait for that unlikely day, the drips will keep on coming — and they are coming from inside the administration, as Rubin writes:
As former prosecutor Joyce White Vance told me: “It’s clear people inside the administration are concerned Trump will get away with serious misconduct. That’s why information continues to drip out.” She added: “McConnell is on the horns of a dilemma: Do the right thing and insist on witnesses and documents, or continue to cover for Trump and run the risk — which looks more like a certainty these days — that the information makes it out on its own.” She said that unlike in Watergate, Republicans run the risk of complicity “long after [the president’s] guilt was clear.” [emphasis added]
It’s unclear whether McConnell will give in under this pressure; he’s used to it. But Trump is not; it’s driving him (even more) batshit crazy. I am convinced that the Speaker expected this to happen and planned on it. Her scheduling the SOTU for over a month from now was part of that plan.
PS: I don’t know what Bolton’s game is, exactly. He has a reputation for standing on principle, and even though I can’t stand his principles, I will give him that. He knew what IMPOTUS was doing was both illegal and detrimental to national security. and he even resigned over it (sort of). He also knows that if he testifies, there will be no way Trump and the GOP can talk their way out of it. And he hates Trump. Now, he does have a book to sell, but I would think that testifying about some of the things he saw now will increase future sales. Your speculations are invited.