A new day, a new puzzle piece
Donald Trump's former national security adviser, John Bolton, may never get to testify in a Trump impeachment trial (we say may because, hey, despite the Senate's no-witnesses vote, anything can happen). Besides, it seems Bolton may yet have the last word.
Drip. Drip. Drip.
Bolton's book, "The Room Where It Happened," is scheduled to hit bookshelves and airwaves on March 17, but it's coming out in almost daily bits and pieces as excerpts from the unpublished draft are leaked to the nation's top journalists.
On Friday, another revelation put top aides in the room when our president asked Bolton to help with his pressure campaign on Ukraine to force an ally country being invaded by Russia to get some dirt on Trump's top political opponent if Ukraine's government wanted to get the nearly $400 million in military aid that Congress had previously allocated.
Trump gave Bolton this instruction, Bolton wrote, in the Oval Office in early May and in front of the acting White House Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney, the president's personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, and the White House counsel, Pat A. Cipollone. Yes, the same Cipollone who has led the president's impeachment defense.
Where have we heard this before? As Gordon Sondland, the United States ambassador to the European Union and head of the president's shadow foreign policy plan toward Ukraine testified:
"Everyone was in the loop."
100 legal experts dispute Trump lawyers
Close to 100 law professors and legal historians, in an open letter to the Senate on Friday, told senators that the Trump impeachment legal team has been misleading them. Those 100 experts explained that the scholarly consensus is that "abuse of power" is an impeachable offense and that impeachment does not require proof of an indictable crime, contrary to what President Trump's lawyers have broadly argued.
And, yes, that casts poor light on the head-in-the-sand attitudes of Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander and other Senate Republicans who on Friday rejected a motion to hear from any new witnesses — the same witnesses they claimed the House should have heard before the Trump impeachment case came to trial in the Senate. (News flash: Trump refused to allow those witnesses to answer House subpoenas and testify).
The scholars' letter also rejected a specific suggestion put forward by Trump lawyer Alan Dershowitz that presidents may abuse the powers of their office to secure re-election without being impeached so long as they think their continuance in power would be good for the country or — "in the public interest."
"To accept such a view would be to give the president carte blanche to corrupt American electoral democracy," the letter states.
Dershowitz has since said he was misinterpreted.
Judge for yourself. Here's what he said — verbatim.
"If a president does something which he believes will help him get elected in the public interest, that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment."
What's in the 'public interest'?
Let's look harder at Dershowitz's take on a president's view of his re-election and "the public interest."
This is a president who has said "I alone can fix it" and referred to himself as "the chosen one."
This is a president who last summer falsely said publicly: "I have an Article II, where I have to the right to do whatever I want as president."
This is president who, in his first three years as president, has made 16,241 false or misleading claims to the American people — nearly 15 lies a day.
This is the president who has taken the once respectable Republican Party hostage and brainwashed it. Just ask the senior senator from Tennessee, who on Thursday night acknowledged Trump's "inappropriate" behavior but parroted the claims by Trump and his legal team that his cheating, lying and obstruction did not rise to the level of impeachment.
Oh, well. The State of the Union is just around the corner of midnight.
Gird yourselves for more of the same.