Friday, January 31, 2020

What did Donald Trump do today?

He was oddly quiet about John Bolton.

The Senate voted, mostly along party lines, to spare Trump from having witnesses to his conduct in the Ukraine scandal testify in his impeachment trial. This, plus a party-line vote not to demand documentary evidence, means the trial is expected to conclude next Wednesday. 

Trump has been trashing the most damning potential witness, former national security advisor John Bolton, for about a week now. But today, the Trump White House was suddenly silent on Bolton. Administration spokesperson flatly refused to comment on whether Bolton has been threatened with legal action if he doesn't delete portions of his forthcoming book that might prove damaging to Trump. 

Trump ordered Bolton to join in the efforts to force Ukraine to announce an "investigation" into Joe Biden, according to new reporting today sourced to Bolton's book. Trump denied the claim when pressed on it by reporters, but Bolton identifies other senior White House aides who were also witnesses.

Bolton submitted his manuscript to the National Security Council, an executive branch agency, for a routine check for classified material. That means that the Trump administration knows what Bolton will say about Trump. But the overwhelming majority of Americans who supported calling witnesses at Trump's trial don't, and won't until Bolton's book is published.

Why does this matter?

  • People whose behavior was "perfect" generally don't need to suppress evidence and intimidate witnesses.