The House committees could have subpoenaed such witnesses but would have been bogged down in legal process. However, the witnesses who did come forward were sufficient to bring forward articles of impeachment. The Senate should do its duty and conduct a fair trial with whatever remaining witnesses and materials might prove exculpatory. Who wouldn’t want that.
“So, we’re doing very well. I got to watch [the impeachment trial] enough. I thought our team did a very good job. But honestly, we have all the material. They don’t have the material.”
Usually, the Trump administration either refuses to explain their stonewalling or excuses their lack of cooperation away by bashing the investigation, calling it illegitimate or a witch hunt. But here, rather astonishingly, Trump seems to be flatly admitting to withholding evidence.
As the definition of whiteness in America has expanded over generations, the unearned advantages that come with it become harder to kick. While racism is rightly regarded as a social disease, the privilege that it affords white people can be more like a drug. So even when Donald Trump becomes an obviously horrid president whose policies hurt even some of his own voting blocs, there are many who won’t give up the sweet taste of superiority over other groups — immigrants of color, African Americans — whom he marginalizes even further.
That’s one big reason why, rather than recoiling from the injuries Trump is inflicting upon the rule of law, his nearly monochromatic base is following his example, mistaking actual moves towards equality, legality, and public safety as encroachments upon their freedoms. Doing so is not merely unpatriotic in the sense that they favor party over country — such indulgence edges us closer to authoritarianism and fascism.
That indulgence is evident this week as Trump’s backers and apologists put both their white privilege and white fragility fully on parade. Whether in the form of a rigged trial or an armed demonstration, groups that primarily represent the interests of white Americans have behaved as if the end times are coming. They aren’t under any real threat, yet they have reacted with the kind of fervor and extremism that nonwhite groups with valid grievances couldn’t dream of displaying.
On Tuesday, Republicans voted along party lines to bar subpoenas for acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and former National Security Council chair John Bolton and delay a decision on others until later in the proceedings.
They did this even in the face of strong public opinion in favor of an actual trial. Trump, unable to help himself, even bragged about withholding evidence from an impeachment trial in which one of the two articles is about his obstructing justice.
If you want to encourage more bad behavior from the House Democrats, vote for witnesses.
— Sen. Marsha Blackburn (@MarshaBlackburn) January 22, 2020
Let's be clear about something. On Tuesday, every single Republican senator voted to block access to firsthand witnesses and relevant documents.
And now they have to gall to say that so far in the trial, they haven't learned anything new.
They can’t have it both ways.
— Kamala Harris (@SenKamalaHarris) January 23, 2020
polls *this week* on support for calling new witnesses:
Monmouth –– 80%
Reuters –– 72%
CNN –– 69%
AP/NORC –– 68%
— Jesse Lehrich (@JesseLehrich) January 23, 2020
The GOP Senators aren’t mad that Schiff is repeating himself because they’re tired of hearing it:
They’re mad because they know thousands more people are watching this than watched the individual hearings, and that scares the hell out of them.
— Angry Staffer (@AngrierWHStaff) January 23, 2020
This defense is anything but nuanced. It appears premised on two highly contested points.
First, there is the position that there was nothing even remotely inappropriate in the president asking a foreign country to investigate a political rival. This position can be accepted or not accepted by senators.
However, the second point presents a far more difficult problem for senators concerned about the interpretation of the Constitution. The White House is arguing that you cannot impeach a president without a crime.
In this impeachment, the House has decided to go forward on the narrowest articles with the thinnest record of a presidential impeachment in history. However, many senators may be legitimately leery of buying what the White House is selling with its categorical approach. There is a vast array of harmful and corrupt acts that a president can commit outside of the criminal code.
The developing defense by the White House is also a mistake. It would again “expand the space for executive conduct” by reducing the definition of impeachable conduct to the criminal code. It is an argument that is as politically unwise as it is constitutionally shortsighted. There are a number of Democrats who might be willing to vote for acquittal, particularly on the highly flawed abuse of Congress article. Yet, the narrow White House definition of what is impeachable could well push them back into the Democratic fold while further pulling away a couple of moderate Republican senators.
Whatever benefit from the clarity of such a position will come at the cost of any possible consensus. If successful, it would also come at a considerable cost for the Constitution.