If Democrats play smart they can derail the Senate trial - GulfToday

If Democrats play smart they can derail the Senate trial


John Bolton and Lev Parnas.

Tim Mullaney, The independent

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s timing on the matter of impeaching President Donald Trump has been impeccable — until this week. She held off betting the political ranch on the Russia scandal, destined to peter out after no one in the infamous Trump Tower meeting between Trump’s inner circle and a Russian delegation would give straight answers about what would happen there. Instead, she waited, and the Ukraine scandal now engulfing Trump came along shortly.

Now comes her mistake: After holding the articles of impeachment for three weeks before formally sending them to the Senate for trial — weeks in which much new evidence emerged — she sent them over this week just as the biggest evidence bombshell of all hit Washington.

One refers, of course, to the document dump and first interviews of Lev Parnas, the (let’s be honest) goofy-looking Soviet-born associate of Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, which, if corroborated, nail the coffin shut on any serious discussion of Trump’s guilt. The president absolutely knew about, and directed, the whole scheme, Parnas told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Wednesday.

But will Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell even consider Parnas’ allegations? He has resisted hearing from any witnesses at all — including former National Security Adviser John Bolton, who was fired the day before the US released impounded military aid to Ukraine. And McConnell has acknowledged that he is working closely with the White House counsel’s office to guarantee Trump is acquitted.

More to the point, McConnell is the guy who held out for a solid year refusing even to consider President Barack Obama’s 2016 nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, as nakedly political a dereliction of the Senate’s constitutional duty as modern history can offer.

So, counting on McConnell’s thirst for justice is a mistake, as Pelosi clearly knows — but counting on his capacity to be shamed into doing the right thing, and running a real trial in the Senate that includes Parnas and Bolton, is also a mistake. The Garland matter shows that, clearly.

So what to do? One answer is to simply announce that the House will run its own hearings with Parnas and Bolton during the Senate trial, if the Senate trial is rigged as McConnell has made plain he would like to rig it.

It would be a spectacle for the ages: A split screen of an investigation and a cover-up, in real time.

On the left would be the Senate, spouting slogans about due process as they make sure not to create one, with a frisson of conspiracy theories about Joe Biden’s son Hunter, who served in a highly paid sinecure on the board of a Ukrainian natural gas company for which he was plainly unqualified, but who hasn’t been shown to have broken the law or even been seriously accused of it. On the right would be Parnas. He tells a coherent story, from the inside of the conspiracy — and yes, it is that — to break the law (as the General Accountability Office found on January 16th) by withholding military aid to Ukraine in order to aid Trump’s re-election campaign.

Also on the left would be Bolton, a long-time foreign policy hawk who called the Giuliani-led plot a “drug deal,’’ according to testimony before the House Intelligence Committee last fall.

Now, that would shame McConnell, even if it didn’t shame him into actually doing the right thing. Having the House do more research, preferably while the Senate delays an impeachment trial set to begin next week, would also be a better approach for the country.

The goal is to give the American people the sober, reflective trial that such serious allegations demand. The way to do that is to develop the record fully — whether Mitch McConnell likes it or not.

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