You have to give credit to congressional Democrats for one thing: They are an extremely hopeful bunch. After years of Russia investigations aimed at toppling Donald Trump, they came away with what Grandmother would have called “bupkis.” But, not daunted, they quickly latched onto a whistleblower report about a phone call with Ukraine, and launched an up tempo effort, one last-ditch attempt to take the president down.
The result of this exertion did include a vote to impeach Trump, but did not attract a single GOP vote. This is also almost certain to the result in the senate trial as well. But wait! Now former National Security Adviser John Bolton has agreed to testify if called, and the Democrats are racing toward Lucy again, confident this time she won’t move the football.
The excitement from Democrats comes from the fact that Bolton in the past few months has sent a few mysterious tweets and said through lawyers that he does have information that did not come up in impeachment. Bolton may well have new information, but the idea that he is going walk into the Senate chamber if subpoenaed with a smoking gun is pure wish casting.
The crux of the dispute between Democrats and Republicans over the Trump administration’s action to delay funding to Ukraine is not over whether it happened, but whether the president was acting within his authority. It is almost inconceivable that Bolton could provide any evidence that would change that basic dynamic.
We know from the impeachment testimony that Bolton was almost certainly not happy with the way the Ukraine situation was handled. Like other establishment foreign policy figures, he was probably not a fan of the credence that Trump gave to Rudy Giuliani’s concerns over Ukraine. But ultimately, so what? We already know many diplomats and career officials disagreed with it. The question is whether it was a legitimate act of presidential power, or an attempt to bribe Ukraine into investigating Hunter Biden and by extension, Joe Biden.
On that point, what can John Bolton possibly say that would prove Trump’s intent was malicious, and not genuine concern about taxpayer dollars falling into corrupt hands? Is he really going to say, “The president told me he doesn’t care about corruption, he just wanted to get that pesky Joe Biden and get him good?” Is there anyone on the face of the planet who thinks that such a conversation could have taken place?
The best plausible testimony Democrats can hope for is that Bolton reveals he expressed opposition, but so did a half dozen people who already testified, and just like them, nobody elected John Bolton to be president. The problem for Democrats has always been here that they cannot prove that Trump’s intent was not to ensure the country didn’t throw good money after bad.
At this point, the Democrats have thrown so much spaghetti at the wall during this process that there is none left in the water. They achieved the one thing in their power, the impeachment itself, albeit with no Republicans and no polling consensus. This is literally as good as it’s going to get. Even if they convince four GOP senators to call Bolton, somehow apparently without the White House being able to call, say, Hunter Biden, or the whistleblower, there is no reason to think he would move the needle one iota.
But, hope springs eternal in the Trump addled minds of the Democrats, maybe just maybe, they think, if they keep this sham process going on long enough something good might happen. They are like addicts at a slot machine convinced they have pulled the lever so many times that they must be due. One thing seems certain. John Bolton is not going to be their jackpot. In fact, they will at this point, almost certainly leave the casino known empty-handed.