There’s still so much we don’t know about the Ukraine scandal.
But in the words of President Trump’s defense attorney Patrick Philbin late last night, “all the information is out, now.”
“We have to respect the ability of the voters to take in information,” he said. “They have had plenty of opportunity with the process they ran in the House to make all of the information public that they want, and to be able to make their accusations against the President.”
“We think they have been disproven,” Philbin added. “The voters should be able to decide.”
All of the information is not yet out.
That is partly due to the complexity and sprawling nature of the campaign to withhold military aid to extort Ukraine into helping President Trump politically; but it also stems from the unprecedented obstruction and denial of Congress’ right to oversee the Executive Branch in which Trump and his allies have engaged.
In fact, the information that was uncovered only came out in spite of strenuous opposition from the White House.
All of the government witnesses that the House Intelligence Committee deposed did so under subpoena from Congress. They were willing to testify without compulsion; however, the subpoenas were issued to provide legal cover so key witnesses like Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch and NSC staffer Fiona Hill could speak.
And that’s not even mentioning the more active, aggressive campaign to ignore document requests and subpoenas issued by the House. The State Department, for example, still has not complied with a House subpoena issued at the start of the impeachment inquiry, though Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) said last night that the agency has the information ready to be handed over.
Still, the issue is not merely that the White House has prevented information from coming out. It’s that there are key questions and threads which remain unanswered throughout the scandal.
Arguably the biggest specter across the entire scandal is that of Justice Department independence. Attorney General Bill Barr has studiously issued statements distancing himself from various points in the scandal at which the Justice Department was asked to open or close relevant investigations; we still do not know if the DOJ’s independence was compromised.
That goes to the heart of whatever testimony former National Security Adviser John Bolton would offer about whether Trump routinely agreed to close sensitive DOJ investigations in exchange for political favors on phone calls with foreign leaders.
To reinforce the point: at noon on Friday — as impeachment proceedings were expected to wind down — the New York Times published an article based on Bolton’s book manuscript saying that Trump tried to enlist Bolton in the Ukraine pressure campaign.
Another lost thread in all of this is that of the White House’s alleged abuse of its own classification system. White House attorneys were accused by the intelligence community whistleblower of stuffing damaging transcripts of Trump and foreign leaders into an electronic lockbox, where the most sensitive documents are meant to be kept.
Lev Parnas, the Giuliani henchman who is waging a bizarre public relations campaign with discovery evidence taken from his criminal campaign finance case, continues to release inside information that offers promising new leads in the investigation.
And the man at the center of all of it — Giuliani himself — has only doubled down on his efforts to use Ukraine as a bludgeon in the 2020 election.
The exact nature of how he began to establish contacts in Ukraine that could help him — and the extent to which this intersected with his private consulting business — remains unclear. Giuliani himself ignored congressional demands for his testimony.
So, in spite of Philbin’s protests that the American people have the information, any spectator would walk away from this scandal with more questions than answers.
But, here’s another perspective. Trump and his defenders have been claiming since the start of the impeachment inquiry that all of this is a hysterical attempt to cover up real corruption: Hunter Biden’s position on the board of a Ukrainian gas company, and his father’s supposed abuse of office to quash an investigation into that firm.
And yet, the impeachment trial offered the GOP its grandest chance to finally get to the bottom of Biden’s work in Ukraine and whether his father was involved.
After all, with a 53-seat majority, Republicans likely had the votes to call the younger Biden as a witness and publicly depose him.
So, then, why didn’t they do it?
There’s information still out there to be uncovered, after all.
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