The New York Times is reporting that John Bolton recently began circulating the manuscript of this forthcoming book to associates in DC. Critically, he also sent a copy to the White House for a pre-publication review. (In theory that is to review it for any classified information.) In it Bolton reportedly writes that in August 2019 President Trump told him he wanted to continue holding up military aid to Ukraine until Ukraine relented and helped with investigations into Joe Biden and other Democrats.
I didn’t see any of yesterday’s final closing arguments live. I was at an NYPD precinct filling out police reports with a gaggle of middle schoolers. (Long story; everyone and everything is fine.) So I got home at about 1 AM or 1:30 AM to this flurry of puffed up outrage about heads on pikes. It took me a bit to get a handle on exactly what had happened and what the pretended outrage was even about. You probably know all those details already, quite possibly before I did.
But let’s step back from the clamor and nonsense to understand this.
President Trump’s defense opened Saturday with a swift 2-hour session that crammed everything but the kitchen sink into an argument that was designed first and foremost to undermine Adam Schiff’s reliability as a narrator. In a stinging irony, the White House lawyers maintained a sustained attack on the House managers for, of all things, hiding evidence.
I made sure to be in the Senate chamber right as President Trump’s legal team began to see how their tactics shifted the dynamics in the room.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) captured it perfectly last night. Republican senators are looking for an “outrage offramp” to help get themselves off the hook. They’ll find it some way some how. Whether it’s taking great umbrage with process or with the tone of House managers or other petty decorum slights.
Sen Whitehouse: Republicans are “desperate to find an outrage off-ramp” pic.twitter.com/m4EfZmQJfh
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) January 25, 2020
It was the end of four long days of impeachment proceedings, and for once, all the senators were still.
For the bulk of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff’s speech closing the House’s presentation of evidence, every seat was filled (except for that of Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS), who was watching from a public balcony with a guest).
News is out this morning that there’s a tape recording of President Trump ordering the firing of Marie Yovanovitch. On its face this doesn’t tell us dramatically more than we already know. The April 2018 dinner in question, where Lev Parnas and his business partner Igor Fruman met the President, has been reported on extensively. Even the gist of the conversation has been reported.
Obviously the existence of a tape adds some punch and drama. But that’s not the real significance.
House impeachment managers will spend their third day in the spotlight arguing that President Trump obstructed Congress by stonewalling congressional investigators’ requests for documents and witness testimony while the House was conducting its impeachment inquiry.
At the end of the day, the baton will be tossed to Trump’s legal team, who will begin their opening arguments on Saturday. The ever ratings-obsessed Trump is reportedly not happy that his lawyers’ first stab at his defense is taking place over the weekend, rather than during the week. Here’s more on that and other stories we’re following:
I’m late to this. But yes, at Davos yesterday President Trumped bragged that he can’t be convicted because his team is withholding all the incriminating evidence.
Good Lord, I'm late to this one. But yeah, the President actually said he can't be convicted because his team is withholding all the incriminating documents. pic.twitter.com/SpGuF2MEzR
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) January 24, 2020
House impeachment managers dedicated a great deal of time today to explaining the current and historic political climate in Ukraine. Its prompted questions: Is this an effective strategy for Democrats? Or are we getting too far into the weeds?
President Trump went down in history this month as the third president to be impeached, in part over an abuse of power allegation involving an attempt to extort Ukraine into attacking Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden.
But the story of the pressure campaign actually begins long before this year, with an individual who has gone without much mentioned during the impeachment inquiry: Paul Manafort.