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What are we to think about the motives of Trump, Bolton, GOP senators and Trump’s base?

How stupid are we supposed to be, and are we this stupid?

President Donald Trump is blocking everyone he can block from testifying at the Senate impeachment trial. 

Just doesn’t like Congress? Values his privacy?  Hiding something of which he’s proud but just too modest to want everyone to find out how honest, smart, generous and tough-on-Russia he is? Or hiding something that makes him look bad, look pro-Putin, maybe even look guilty, or maybe even impeachably guilty?

Former National Security Adviser John Bolton —who, according to all the sources who claim to know (and who, according to sources has written as much in his as-yet-unpublished book on the subject) was told by his then-boss Trump that he (Trump) was holding back congressionally appropriated aid that Ukraine needed fairly desperately to help it fight Russian troops who are occupying part of Ukraine — is willing to testify, but only if he is subpoenaed. 


Shy? Busy grooming his mustache? Hoping to boost advance sales of his book? Likes to be subpoenaed? Or wants to be subpoenaed by Congress so he can tell what he knows without being prosecuted for telling what he knows?

Republicans, who control the Senate and are empowered to issue a subpoena to Bolton, have declined to issue one.

Want to respect Bolton’s desire for privacy? Are afraid to hear what Bolton would testify because it would make it harder for them to not convict Trump of the charges on which he has been impeached?

The roughly 40 percent of the American electorate who consistently say they approve of Trump’s performance, a level of support that has held steady for three years, still support him. 

Don’t know about the impeachment? Don’t want to know? Want Trump to make America even greater than he has already made it?

Comments (32)

  1. Submitted by BK Anderson on 01/28/2020 - 09:09 am.

    The fact that Gravedigger of Democracy McConnell and his Repub majority immediately refused to subpoena thousands of documents that the House had subpoenaed and that Trump boasted he is (wrongfully) sitting on makes clear that every one of them had no intention of honoring their purported “oaths” to “do impartial justice”. No responsible judge or juror actually wishing to have a trial determine the truth of a matter would do such a thing.

    As for today’s Trump supporters, only they can explain why they have decided to let Donald Trump rent out their brains and force them to make irrational and ridiculous arguments that they would never make in support of any other person on earth. Only they can explain why they don’t want to know what their government has done in their names, or why they can blithely slough off incident after incident of lawbreaking and demonstrable lying by the “president”.

    The only possible motivation of Trump is knowledge of guilt. The only possible motivation of the Gravedigger’s senate majority is fear of the hostile Trumpite cult, er, base. And the only possible motivation of that base is spite and indifference to lawbreaking when it’s “their” president’s crimes. Party over Country, always.

    • Submitted by Bob Barnes on 01/28/2020 - 11:23 am.

      That task was for the House. They failed to make their case so the Senate will dismiss or acquit. This was a sham impeachment done purely for political purposes and everyone knows it. Were you this outraged when Obama withheld aid and weapons and simply let Russia walk in and take part of the Ukraine? Didn’t think so

      • Submitted by BK Anderson on 01/28/2020 - 01:53 pm.

        Well, we’ve seen these arguments before, but here we go again:

        1. The Congress (in its oversight role) has a right to review all documents of the executive branch, absent claims of classified national security material or executive privilege. This is to protect the citizenry from an authoritarian president.

        2. The House has exclusive power to commence impeachment investigations, which it did here, and to subpoena relevant documents from the executive, which it also did.

        3. Trump (by dictat) simply asserted a blanket refusal to provide a SINGLE executive branch document or witness in response. He did not assert executive privilege because that is a limited doctrine which cannot possibly extend to every document and witness subpoenaed. Nor does the president get to decide on his own that an impeachment inquiry is illegitimate, that’s the House’s exclusive province. So what Trump did was blatantly unconstitutional.

        This also distinguishes what Trump did from prior presidents, who have asserted privilege over a very limited scope of documents. Trump’s claims are unprecedented, and the symptom of a wannabe dictator.

        4. There is no constitutional requirement to take every Congressional subpoena matter to the courts, especially when all documents are being withheld in bad faith and merely for delay, which is certainly the case here. Further, it is no longer reasonable to see the Supreme Court as a neutral arbiter between the branches, since Trump and McConnell have installed a democratically-illegitimate far right conservative majority.

        5. There is certainly no good reason why the senate sitting as court of impeachment should refuse to subpoena the same documents that the House did, especially when the executive boasts of gathering and refusing to submit them. At least not if the goal of the “trial” is to determine the truth and not further a cover-up.

        6. Why you and your fellow conservatives have no interest whatsoever in finding out the truth of what Trump did is rather mysterious. Why do you support presidential authoritarianism? Why don’t you want to know the truth?

        7. Finally, whatever Obama did or did not do regarding prior appropriations of aid to Ukraine is irrelevant to Trump’s illegal withholding of such lawfully appropriated aid in 2019.

        8. These points can be taken to address all your various arguments in the thread below. I look forward to your response(s).

      • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 01/28/2020 - 02:56 pm.

        “This was a sham impeachment done purely for political purposes and everyone knows it.”

        Everyone other than the 51% of all Americans who think he should be impeached and removed and the FOX reported 80% who support the need for witnesses.

      • Submitted by Kevin Schumacher on 01/28/2020 - 04:05 pm.

        Bologna. The House made its case, but the fix was in on the Senate side. What’s funny is that if (perhaps when, given Mr. McConnell’s plan) trump is acquitted, the R senators will bear the burden of answering difficult questions as more and more damning information comes out, which, invariably, it will. Honestly, if senate R’s had any courage, they would hear from all the president’s men…but then, not.

  2. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 01/28/2020 - 09:32 am.

    Trump’s acquittal is assured regardless of what Bolton says, so the only ones hurt by the trial will be the Biden supporters and perhaps the entire democrat party who will default to a socialist as their nominee. I posted this a week ago (1/21) and it’s even truer today … including the last part about Hillary who said in an interview yesterday that she wants to run again and would beat Trump this time. heh

    1/21 – “If the democrats insist on witnesses that would violate the executive privilege, then the republicans will insist on one witness that would support the claim that Trump’s motive for investigating Burisma was to expose the Biden family corruption. If Hunter Biden tells the truth under oath, he would open up a can of worms regarding corrupt deals that paid him millions while his father was vice president. The relevancy of calling Hunter Biden as a witness, of course, is that Trump is on record as saying he didn’t want to give $400 million of taxpayer money to a corrupt Ukrainian government that fired the prosecutor, at Joe Biden’s insistence, who was looking into the Burisma payoffs to Hunter Biden while his father was in charge of Ukrainian policy.

    Bottom line, Biden supporters for president, and maybe the entire democrat party, will rue the day they went down this path to get Trump because it will backfire. Looks like Hillary’s planning to come in at the brokered convention to save the day.”

    • Submitted by Ray Schoch on 01/28/2020 - 10:25 am.

      That’s an incredibly tortured line of thought, bearing little relation to reality, but I admire the effort that had to be put into developing it.

      Just to show that “What-About-Ism” isn’t an exclusively right-wing exercise, allow me to provide a different version. If we’re going to blame Joe Biden for his son’s acceptance of that grossly-overpaid board position in Ukraine years ago, we should also blame Mr. Trump for his offer – and his children’s acceptance – of positions as White House aides for which they’re supremely unqualified, far less qualified than Hunter Biden seems to have been on the Burisma board. If Hunter Biden is corrupt, as well as the Ukrainian government, then Ivanka, Don Jr., and Jared are just as corrupt for taking jobs in an equally corrupt American government’s executive branch for which their only qualification is the office their father (or father-in-law) holds.

      The return of Hillary Clinton to the campaign trail will, I’d guess, remain a fond, but fevered, dream of a certain segment of the electorate. I could be wrong, of course, but I’ll be surprised if it happens.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 01/28/2020 - 11:12 am.

      1. Trump was not “investigating Burisma.” He wanted the Ukrainian government to announce that it was investigating.

      2. The President has no authority to withhold congressionally appropriated funds, regardless of his motive. This is true even if his motive is attacking a Democrat.

      3. The thought that the Trump administration would equate nepotism with corruption is absurd on its face.

      4. The idea that the Trump administration – you know, the one headed by the man who wants to repeal the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and who cozies up to an Israeli Prime Minister under indictment for corruption – gives a rat’s hind end about corruption anywhere is even more absurd.

    • Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 01/28/2020 - 09:14 pm.

      “The relevancy of calling Hunter Biden as a witness, of course, is that Trump is on record as saying he didn’t want to give $400 million of taxpayer money to a corrupt Ukrainian government that fired the prosecutor, at Joe Biden’s insistence, who was looking into the Burisma payoffs to Hunter Biden while his father was in charge of Ukrainian policy.”

      Except for the fact that Joe Biden insisted on firing the prosecutor who refused to investigate Burisma corruption. Now maybe Burisma was hoping to get some sort of favorable treatment from the US because of Joe Biden’s power and influence, but bringing his son on the Board of Directors or as an attorney/consultant in order to bring pressure on the Ukrainian prosecutor to investigate it for corruption seems pretty idiotic to me. What am I missing here?

      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 01/29/2020 - 10:24 am.

        You’re missing that VP Biden was not the only one pushing for the removal of the prosecutor, but the EU had also asked that he be removed. Other US officials had joined the pressure campaign some months before Biden’s involvement. In fact, at least one US official involved in the campaign said that he hadn’t heard of Burisma before Rudy Giuliani mentioned it.

        Sorry, that doesn’t help you understand the Republican case any better, does it?

        • Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 01/29/2020 - 05:07 pm.

          That too. But maybe I was unclear. There was no prosecutor “who was looking into the Burisma payoffs to Hunter Biden while his father was in charge of Ukrainian policy” because there were no “payoffs” to have been investigated. The problem was that the prosecutor was NOT investigating corruption. If Hunter Biden’s appointment as an advisor and director of Burisma was the corruption he should have been investigating, it seems Burisma or someone in the Ukrainian government was very stupid to try to bribe Joe Biden or his son to force the exposure of such corruption. But there were no “payoffs”. (The term “payoffs” apparently was used to imply bribery of Joe Biden). The Joe Biden/HunterBiden/Burisma corruption connection was made up by Trump as a smokescreen and red herring to confuse the public.

  3. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 01/28/2020 - 10:32 am.

    What are we to think?

    Re: Trump: “…Just doesn’t like Congress? Values his privacy? Hiding something of which he’s proud but just too modest to want everyone to find out how honest, smart, generous and tough-on-Russia he is? Or hiding something that makes him look bad, look pro-Putin, maybe even look guilty, or maybe even impeachably guilty?”

    I vote for #1, #2 and #4. Number three is genuinely amusing.

    Re: Bolton: “…Shy? Busy grooming his mustache? Hoping to boost advance sales of his book? Likes to be subpoenaed? Or wants to be subpoenaed by Congress so he can tell what he knows without being prosecuted for telling what he knows?”

    I vote for #3 and #5. Based on the past several years, #1 appears to be untrue. #2 is mildly amusing (I have a mustache myself), but no more. #4 seems an unlikely fetish.

    Re: Senate Republicans: “…Want to respect Bolton’s desire for privacy? Are afraid to hear what Bolton would testify because it would make it harder for them to not convict Trump of the charges on which he has been impeached?”

    I vote for #2. Number one has a bit of credibility, since Bolton leans heavily toward the right, at least in terms of international relations, but cannot, in the end, it cannot be taken seriously.

    Re: The Trumpian 40%: Don’t know about the impeachment? Don’t want to know? Want Trump to make America even greater than he has already made it?

    I vote for #2. You’d have to be living under a bridge (as too many people are) not to know that Trump has been impeached and is on trial, so “not knowing” seems unlikely. Given the Trumpian 40%, I’m tempted by #3 – much of his support seems to come at least partially from a group often referred to by a friend of my son’s, that friend being a “beat cop” in St. Louis, who, more often than he’d like, has to deal with “badly-educated people with no social skills.”

    That, however, seems too broad a brush with which to paint Trump’s supporters, and we have ample historical evidence that racism, misogyny, neofascist political views, etc., can obviously develop in people who might be quite charming in social situations, and who could even have advanced academic degrees. The only conclusion I can reach is that they simply don’t want to acknowledge the degree of corruption now occupying the West Wing of the White House, or how the person who campaigned on his singular ability to “drain the swamp” has, in fact, not only broadened the swamp, but added numerous new individuals and species to the swamp’s population.

    To acknowledge that would be to admit their own error in judgment in either voting for him initially or continuing to support him since, and – much like the Current Occupant – they’re not eager to admit (and may, in fact, be constitutionally incapable of doing so) the severity of their error. Another possibility that I’m reluctant to devote much serious thought to is that the Trumpian 40% are simply nihilists, who cling to the belief that, should Trump bring about the collapse of American society and its economy, they will somehow survive more or less intact.

    • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 01/28/2020 - 04:24 pm.

      Well Ray, you know I have a mustache as well! From this perspective, the last person to admit to a con is the person that got conned. Many of those folks would rather walk around the rest of their life with the toilet paper hanging from their shoe than admit it. And then they wonder why they have not achieved higher goals in life! Got to be someone to blame other then their inability to adjust course.

  4. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 01/28/2020 - 11:06 am.

    Something I am pretty sure of, giving a guy who has committed high crimes and misdemeanors access to the nuclear codes isn’t really in the national interest. And pardon me, if I am not going to go out of the way to assure people who advise the president to commit crimes that they won’t be subject to criminal prosecution.

    • Submitted by Bob Barnes on 01/28/2020 - 11:39 am.

      What crime? So far no one has been able to produce evidence of an actual crime committed by Trump since he took office. Every claim the Dems have made fell flat and never made it into the articles.

      Unlike Clinton who perjured himself (an actual crime) or Nixon who did much the same.

      Obstruction of Congress not only isn’t a crime, isn’t not a real thing. Congress has no power to demand fealty from the Executive. If Congress feels they need data from the Executive, they can subpoena the data/people and the executive can exert privilege. If Congress still feels wronged by that then they must go to Courts to get it resolved. It’s called separation of powers. Scotus has ruled many times that the EB has privileges and is not required to give in to every whim of Congress. Obama used EP many times and you weren’t whining about it.

      • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 01/28/2020 - 12:20 pm.

        What crime?

        How about this one:

        Decision
        Matter of: Office of Management and Budget—Withholding of Ukraine Security Assistance
        File: B-331564
        Date: January 16, 2020
        DIGEST
        In the summer of 2019, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) withheld from obligation funds appropriated to the Department of Defense (DOD) for security assistance to Ukraine. In order to withhold the funds, OMB issued a series of nine apportionment schedules with footnotes that made all unobligated balances unavailable for obligation. Faithful execution of the law does not permit the President to substitute his own policy priorities for those that Congress has enacted into law. OMB withheld funds for a policy reason, which is not permitted under the Impoundment Control Act (ICA). The withholding was not a programmatic delay. Therefore, we conclude that OMB violated the ICA.”

      • Submitted by Matt Haas on 01/28/2020 - 12:29 pm.

        So you’re for a king then? You do understand that is where your line of reasoning ends. As you state, the executive has no fealty to anyone but himself, what is to stop such an executive removing judges that do not suit him by force? What’s to stop a judiciary so then captured from issuing decrees that elections are no longer necessary? If you decide that checks are no longer necessary on the executive branch, be prepared for there to no longer be a balance of power. Of course, it’s what conservative feudalists desire, so none of us are surprised.

      • Submitted by BK Anderson on 01/28/2020 - 02:43 pm.

        Not every impeachable offense is a crime and not every crime is an impeachable offense.

        Impeachment 101.

      • Submitted by Kevin Schumacher on 01/28/2020 - 04:07 pm.

        I’m curious Bob…if you or I got a Congressional subpoena and declined to attend, what would happen to us?

      • Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 01/28/2020 - 09:36 pm.

        “What crime?” Impeachment Article I charges Trump with bribery, a crime under 18 United States Code section 201 (b)(2):

        “Whoever- . . .
        “(2) being a public official or person selected to be a public official, directly or indirectly, corruptly demands, seeks, receives, accepts, or agrees to receive or accept anything of value personally or for any other person or entity, in return for:
        “(A) being influenced in the performance of any official act;
        “(B) being influenced to commit or aid in committing, or to collude in, or allow, any fraud, or make opportunity for the commission of any fraud, on the United States; or
        “(C) being induced to do or omit to do any act in violation of the official duty of such official or person; . . .shall be fined under this title or not more than three times the monetary equivalent of the thing of value, whichever is greater, or imprisoned for not more than fifteen years, or both, and may be disqualified from holding any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States.”

        Article of Impeachment II charges Trump with “obstruction of proceedings before departments, agencies and committees” in violation of 18 United States Code section 1505:

        “Whoever, with intent to avoid, evade, prevent, or obstruct compliance, in whole or in part, with any civil investigative demand duly and properly made under the Antitrust Civil Process Act, willfully withholds, misrepresents, removes from any place, conceals, covers up, destroys, mutilates, alters, or by other means falsifies any documentary material, answers to written interrogatories, or oral testimony, which is the subject of such demand; or attempts to do so or solicits another to do so; or

        “Whoever corruptly, or by threats or force, or by any threatening letter or communication influences, obstructs, or impedes or endeavors to influence, obstruct, or impede the due and proper administration of the law under which any pending proceeding is being had before any department or agency of the United States, or the due and proper exercise of the power of inquiry under which any inquiry or investigation is being had by either House, or any committee of either House or any joint committee of the Congress—

        “Shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 5 years or, if the offense involves international or domestic terrorism (as defined in section 2331), imprisoned not more than 8 years, or both.”

        “Corruptly”is defined in 18 United States Code section 1515(b): “As used in section 1505, the term “corruptly” means acting with an improper purpose, personally or by influencing another, including making a false or misleading statement, or withholding, concealing, altering, or destroying a document or other information.”

        The Articles don’t cite to the statutes but the language on the Articles of Impeachment track the language of the statute. It’s unnecessary to charge Trump with a crime because an impeachment is not a criminal trial or process. According to Trump himself, he’s immune from “criminal prosecution” while serving in office. He’s not immune from being removed from office for committing acts which would be criminal. That is unless the Senate is cowed and intimidated into giving him a pass on that.

  5. Submitted by Misty Martin on 01/28/2020 - 11:32 am.

    Eric:

    This could be your very best article yet . . . a delightful take on such an undelightful subject . . . TRUMP! and his band of cronies . . . what a crazy political climate we are in at the present time. Your spin on things makes it easier to digest somehow. Thank you.

  6. Submitted by Brian Simon on 01/28/2020 - 11:36 am.

    I think one explanation for Republican skepticism about congressional investigations is that when Republicans conduct investigations they are utterly bogus. See Benghazi & Lewinsky as exhibits A & B.

  7. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 01/28/2020 - 03:08 pm.

    With John Bolton testifying that he was actually in conversations with Trump when Trump insisted on the quid pro quo with Ukraine, the whole “it’s second-hand, hearsay” argument the GOP keeps repeating is shot down. the whole First Article of Impeachment is proved and is a federal crime, as the GAO investigation proved). So, that’s a second Republican argument shot down.

    We could take Lindsay Graham up on his suggestion: As Senate Judiciary Committee chair, he could call up Hunter Biden and do an endless Benghazi-type hearing with him on how he used his dad’s name to get money, like Ivanka Trump does regularly. No need to call Hunter Biden for the impeachment trial, because he’s not a relevant witness for it.

    Impeachment must begin in the House, so there’s no question that former President (now private citizen) Barack Obama will be impeached–for what? We don’t know but it’s an item Trump’s lawyers threw up against the wall Monday to see if anything stuck.

    Anybody who actually tried to–or had to, like the Senators–sit through Monday’s Trump-defense presentations, including the legal absurdities from Starr and Dershowitz, has been living in an alternative universe, as Amy Klobuchar described it.

    Poor Trump. Except, as a non-reader, he’ll never really know how badly history will treat his presidency and his personality.

  8. Submitted by Edward Blaise on 01/28/2020 - 03:19 pm.

    Trump nation is fully melting down today. From the Trump, to his legal team to 53 R Senators to 41% of the voting public, all know that witnesses and evidence would be a full on disaster: DISSEMBLE IN ANYWAY POSSIBLE!!!

    The 53 Senators know that witnesses and evidence, no matter how damning, has nothing to do with a vote to acquit. They simply must put party ahead of principles if they are to keep their sweet Senatorial gigs.

    So let’s pass on witnesses and evidence. Acquit the man and let him have the South Lawn presser where he says “Perfect Call” 85 times.

    And then let the witnesses and evidence leak out in dribs and drabs right up to election day, rather than flushing it all next week leaving 9 months to recover. Death by a thousand cuts, ordered by the victim…

  9. Submitted by Tom Wilson on 01/28/2020 - 07:52 pm.

    Edward, I think you have it exactly right. The stuff that will slowly trickle out, will gradually put the kabosh on Donny’s second term dreams….

    • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 01/28/2020 - 10:00 pm.

      And the bonus feature is that beyond Trump’s consequences, all the R Senators will be equally tormented by each new bit of evidence, drip by drip by drip. And with every drip they will have to face the unending misery of being asked:

      “You could have brought this all out in January and you voted not to, Why?”

      As the facts all come into accurate view a disgusted public (well, 60% of them anyway) will vote to clean house of these R scoundrels.

  10. Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 01/29/2020 - 06:29 pm.

    What is the most powerful thing in the world to be? The president, arguably. What is one of the most powerful things a person could do? Take down a president. Bolton being just so ambitious a character.

    Never mind Trump is not warmonger enough for Bolton. Never mind Trump fired him by tweet. Never mind Bolton has a long history trying to incite wars, lying for the empire.

    When Eric Black is starting to sound this strident, it is a sure sign of the disintegration of the collective mind of America, in the way the architecture of the mind breaks down in mental illness. It’s not just Trump fans, it is most people.

    It is all about narratives now. It doesn’t matter if the narrative has any basis in truth, it is how much people believe in them. No amount of debunking can break the narrative of the Republicans, nor of Democrats.

    Narratives are a phlimsy thing compared to facts, and a lot of so called facts are really narratives. So many competing narratives, so few factual tales.

    This is how a people go to war.

    • Submitted by Dave Eischens on 01/30/2020 - 10:27 pm.

      WHD I like to read your comments. Don’t always agree but more times do. Yet I won’t agree to blanket both-siderism and give up in exasperation. There is no credibility in both-siderism applied without reason. Truly the narratives are finely honed by very smart people and are expertly repeated propaganda upon us and our fellow citizens.

      But.

      We gain clarification when we look to values. Values common to most of us. It’s actually not a difficult litmus test even in this impeachment trial. What is true? Let’s bring out all the evidence and witnesses. What is just? That can only be determined with all evidence and a neutral jury and judge. A good compass is to step back and evaluate what has been presented by witnesses with a lot to lose, nothing to gain, and what is geared to fuzzify and restrict evidence, especially if presented by those with much to gain (or hide).

      • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 02/01/2020 - 11:23 am.

        “We gain clarification when we look to values. Values common to most of us.”
        You know Dave we agree, the problem is what are those common values you speak of today?

        A recent post to my wife’s facebook account shows what Trump’s ilk consider values.

        Trump’s ‘lack of decorum, dignity, and statesmanship’ By Evan Sayet in his article “He Fights”
        “We Right-thinking people have tried dignity.”
        “We tried statesmanship”
        “We tried propriety”
        “The Left has been engaged in a war against America since the rise of the Children of the ‘60’s”
        Just a small sampling, and the distortions false accusations only gets worse. So what are those common values?

      • Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 02/01/2020 - 12:17 pm.

        Dems want Bolton. Fine. Put him on the stand. But I want to hear from the whistleblower too; I want to know, if it is true he was looking for ways to take down Trump, did he in fact formerly work for Biden and Brennan, and if so how is it he was working in Teump’s Whitehouse.

        But neither side really wants the truth. They want to confirm their narrative.

  11. Submitted by Joe Musich on 01/30/2020 - 06:56 pm.

    A one word answer to the question in the title, “disingenuous” and nothing less.

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