Why you should care
Because there are more twists to come.
President Donald Trump finally got his Ukraine investigation. The government of everyone’s favorite Eastern European ally is now looking into whether and how then-U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch was put under surveillance … by Trump’s allies. This is just one of the gobsmacking revelations to come to light last week, just in time for the Senate impeachment trial to begin.
House Democrats on Tuesday released a bunch of new documents they unearthed via Lev Parnas, the Rudy Giuliani associate who’s been indicted for violating campaign finance law. The Ukraine-born Parnas, who led the quest for dirt on Joe and Hunter Biden, sits at the fulcrum of the arms-for-investigations scandal that’s led to the third impeachment in U.S. history. The Yovanovitch revelations were most disturbing. You’ll recall her from the House impeachment inquiry, describing her long service to the United States and the smear campaign orchestrated by Giuliani to force her out of her post. Trump kept up said smear campaign with a disparaging tweet while she was testifying.
The new documents show Robert F. Hyde, a Trump donor who is now running for Congress in Connecticut (because of course he is), texting Parnas specifics about Yovanovitch’s movements and phone use. Hyde’s texts to Parnas state “we have a person inside,” even though Yovanovitch was under heavy security. Hyde also texts: ”They are willing to help if we/you would like a price,” and “Guess you can do anything in Ukraine with money … is what I was told.” Parnas replies, “lol.”
Yovanovitch was urgently called back to Washington for reasons never made precisely clear to her and removed from her position.
More documents and Parnas interviews on MSNBC and CNN further buttress the case that Giuliani and his team were out, at Trump’s direction, to get Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to announce an investigation into the Bidens. But we didn’t need much more than the White House’s own transcript of the “PERFECT CALL” to know that. At issue now is whether the affair is worth ejecting a president from office.
So now we get the Very Serious and Solemn Trial in the Senate, after Speaker Nancy Pelosi played hide-the-birdie for a couple of weeks with the articles of impeachment. If she was playing for time for more incriminating information from Parnas, then it worked out, but she could have held open the House inquiry for more information. Instead she made sure her members didn’t take the tough impeachment vote in an election year. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has no interest in extending this thing by calling more witnesses. The only way that happens now is if four of his Republicans cross over and vote with the Democrats.
My prediction: There won’t be extra witnesses. You won’t see former National Security Adviser John Bolton — who, by the way, could say whatever he has to say to Adam Schiff or Tucker Carlson — saunter in under subpoena. And you won’t see Parnas take an oath either. While some Democrats might be worried about opening the door for the circus that would be Hunter Biden’s testimony and a few more Democrats just want to get back to Iowa, the GOP will hold the line. A vote to allow witnesses will only make the trial more volatile and will make Republicans’ inevitable vote to acquit Trump more difficult. And yes, any Republican senator who’s running for reelection will vote to acquit Trump, because not to do so would be a scarlet letter with their base from which they could never recover.
The biggest drama will come from how Trump’s legal team presents its case. We learned Friday that Ken Starr, of Clinton impeachment fame, will join the squad in a too-perfect bit of symmetry, along with famed appellate lawyer Alan Dershowitz, a Democrat who’s been defending Trump against impeachment on TV. Will Trump live-tweet the affair, enjoying his ability to speak freely while senators must remain silent on the floor?
We know he’ll be brooding. It even slipped into his celebration with the college football champion LSU Tigers on Friday. He invited the team to the Oval Office and talked about the Resolute Desk, where “a lot of presidents, some good, some not so good” have worked. “But you’ve got a good one now,” Trump added. “Even though they are trying to impeach the son of a bitch. Can you believe that?”