National Commentary

The Senate GOP Parade of Lemmings

Tuesday’s first-day’s commencement of the impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate of Donald Trump, slogging deep into the night as it did, resulted in a set of identical 53-47 votes that demonstrated the lemming-like march toward political self-destruction by Senate Republicans the likes of which observers for centuries to come will mark with wonderment and countless really good Saturday Night Live jokes.

The Senate Republicans simply don’t grasp how clownish, foolish and absurd, from the standpoint of history much less voter constituencies this November, their astounding Monty Pythonish “silly walk” appears. Repeatedly rejecting motions for documents or witnesses Tuesday, they became blatantly obvious accomplices to the egregious and clearly evident crimes of Trump by way of a massive cover-up.

As the Democratic National Committee stated (the GOP having nothing to say on its side except to whine and vote “No” to it all), “This isn’t about a handful of papers; it’s about multiple first-hand witnesses and a paper trail that will provide critical information about the charges against Trump.”

Summarizing, the information being denied includes the following:

Witnesses — Trump’s former National Security Advisor John Bolton, who said he is willing to testify. Trump’s acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, who at Trump’s direction coordinated the plot to withhold Ukraine’s security assistance and White House meeting until Ukraine announced an investigation into Trump’s political opponent

Michael Duffey, a key witness to Trump’s abuse of power. Duffey, a political appointee at OMB, has intricate knowledge of the military aid freeze that Trump demanded. Robert Blair, a top aide to Trump’s acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, who coordinated Trump’s pressure campaign against Ukraine. Blair followed Trump’s directive not to comply with the impeachment investigation and has refused to testify. The Senate needs to hear from him.

White House documents related to — The White House’s internal meetings discussing the Ukraine scheme, including the firing of Ambassador Yovanovitch.Trump’s request for investigations into interference in the 2016 presidential election and his political rival. Trump’s direct communications with President Zelensky. Trump’s unlawful hold of the $391 million of military aid. Concerns of White House officials reported to NSC legal counsel. The Intelligence Community Inspector General Whistleblower complaint.

State Department documents — Emails from Ambassador Gordon Sondland regarding Trump’s demand that Ukraine announce political investigations. Those emails were sent to some of Trump’s top aides and advisors, including Mulvaney, Pompeo, and Rick Perry. Notes from Ambassador Bill Taylor, who described a “little notebook” in which he would “take notes on conversations.” Contemporaneous memos written by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent about conversations he’d witnessed related to the aid freeze. The first-person cable Ambassador Taylor sent to Pompeo expressing concerns about the aid freeze. Records related to Pompeo’s communications with Rudy Giuliani.

OMB documents — 20 emails the White House is refusing to release between Robert Blair and Michael Duffey. Documents collected in the White House review, including communications between officials in the White House, National Security Council, OMB, and the State Department that reportedly paint an “unflattering” picture of the administration’s response as the White House tried to find “an after-the-fact justification” for Trump’s hold on military aid. Michael Duffey’s June 19, 2019, email to DOD that “the President has questions” about the security assistance. Robert Blair’s July 12, 2019, email to Michael Duffey stating that “the President is directing a hold on military support funding for Ukraine.” Michael Duffey’s email — less than two hours after Trump’s July 25 call with President Zelensky — instructing DOD to continue to “formalize” the hold on security assistance.

An August 2019 memo drafted by OMB’s National Security Division, International Affairs Division, and Office of Legal Counsel to Acting OMB Director Russell Vought about Ukraine security assistance. Michael Duffey’s August 30, 2019, email to DOD stating that there was “clear direction from POTUS” to continue the hold.

OMB documents released late Tuesday night — The New York Times’s Ken Vogel wrote: “At 11:58 p.m., the White House released nearly 200 pages of OMB emails related to Ukraine, including a bevy of emails to/from the officials Senate Dems want to subpoena. On quick read, they are so heavily redacted as to be almost indecipherable.”