John Bolton has agreed to testimony in front of Congress if he is subpoenaed. The only problem is that Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell may never agree to call him as a witness at an impeachment trial.House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s only leverage is to continue to withhold the articles of impeachment from the Senate. This denies closure to Trump, not to mention “complete exoneration.”
For months the president has been looking forward to a Senate vote, which would find him not guilty of abuse of power or obstruction of Congress.
So, what is Pelosi’s next move? It’s quite presumptuous to claim to know her mind, but I do think that her next move is pretty obvious.
She will reopen the impeachment hearing, subpoena Bolton – perhaps along with acting White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, and one or two other Trump administration officials. Even if the others refuse to appear, John Bolton’s testimony may be all that’s needed.
OK, so far so good. Bolton, who has already described Trump’s withholding military aid from Ukraine as part of a “drug deal,” will surely provide some very damaging testimony. It would contradict the president’s contention that he did nothing wrong.
More Americans would now agree that Trump should be impeached and removed from office. And Pelosi would finally send the articles of impeachment to the Senate.
Her main purpose for withholding the articles from the Senate was to force McConnell to call some witnesses. But Bolton’s testimony before the House might be sufficiently damning.
Bolton's testimony preview
Will this new testimony change the hearts and minds of many Republican Senators? Perhaps a handful of them would now be emboldened enough to vote to remove the president from office.
But unless Bolton can really deliver the goods, there is virtually no chance that two thirds of the senators will find Trump guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors. So then, what’s the point of putting Congress – and really the entire nation – through this predictably inconclusive political charade?
Well, before House Democrats decided to begin an impeachment investigation, they knew that there was virtually no chance of getting a two-thirds vote in the Senate to remove Trump from office. Their real goal was to educate the American people about how the president was abusing the powers of his office for his own political gain.
The real impeachment investigation and trial is taking place not in the House and the Senate, but in the court of public opinion. If and when John Bolton tells his story, his audience will be the American people. Their verdict will be delivered on Election Day.
Steve Slavin’s most recent books are The Great American Economy: How Inefficiency Broke It And What We Can Do To Fix It (Prometheus Books) and the 12th edition of an introductory economics text (McGraw-Hill).