Speaking to reporters after Donald Trump’s lawyers completed their opening arguments in his impeachment trial on Tuesday, Chuck Schumer...

Speaking to reporters after Donald Trump’s lawyers completed their opening arguments in his impeachment trial on Tuesday, Chuck Schumer, the Senate legislator , could barely conceal a smile. “I hope we've just four Republicans. All we'd like is four,” he said. At another news conference , Adam Schiff, the leader of the House managers, said it had been clear that the President’s lawyers were “still reeling from the revelations of John Bolton’s book.” John Kelly, Trump’s former chief of staff, said on Monday that he believed Bolton’s claim, first reported within the Times, that Trump told his former national-security adviser that he wouldn’t release military aid to Ukraine unless the Ukrainian government pursued an investigation of the Bidens. Schiff called this “extraordinary.”

That term also describes the pickle during which Mitch McConnell, John Cornyn, Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz, and therefore the remainder of Trump’s Republican enablers now find themselves. “Mortifying” is another word that would be used. Rarely, if ever, features a political blood oath—in this case, a pledge to acquit a crooked President no matter the evidence against him, and without even bothering to call any witnesses—rebounded so horribly, publicly, and spectacularly. Like Trump, when the whistle-blower’s complaint originally emerged, McConnell and his colleagues are caught within the act. And it couldn’t have happened to a more deserving bunch.

Schiff’s description was off in one respect. Trump’s lawyers aren’t the sole ones who are reeling from the news about Bolton’s book; the whole G.O.P. ecosystem is frazzled. On his show on Monday night, the Fox Business channel’s Lou Dobbs, whose on-air encomiums to Trump have earned him special treatment from the White House, was reduced to putting up an image of Bolton, a veteran Republican hawk who has served within the Administrations of 4 G.O.P. Presidents, with the label “A TOOL FOR THE LEFT.” Next, Dobbs are going to be telling us that John Kelly may be a member of the Fourth International and Mitt Romney, who has called on Bolton to testify, may be a closet Bernie Sanders supporter.

Even Sean Hannity, the primus inter pares of Trump’s media outriders, seemed a touch discombobulated by the Bolton news. On his radio show on Monday, the simplest Hannity could manage was to fireside at the messenger. “The problem is it’s a Times story,” he told his listeners. “How often did this ny Times get things wrong?” during this case, it seems, the days got it exactly right. When Bolton, his literary agency, and his publisher released a joint statement on Monday denying that that they had anything to try to to with leaking the contents of the book, they didn’t deny a word of the newspaper’s original report.

Oh, to be a fly the wall when Pat Cipollone, the lead member of Trump’s legal team, learned about the days scoop. instead of arguing that their client’s misdeeds didn’t rise to the extent of impeachable offenses, he and his colleagues have, with straight faces, echoed the President’s claim that he didn’t demand a quid pro quo from Ukraine and, indeed, did nothing wrong in the least . They’ve also argued that there's no firsthand evidence to point out that he did. On Monday night, in closing the defense’s arguments for the day, Cipollone appeared to hint at a shift in strategy when he said, “This choice belongs to the people. they're going to make it months from now.”

But it had been Trump’s loyalists within the Senate who were left most exposed. (Trump lawyers and Fox News anchors are paid to twist the reality , after all.) The initial reaction, typified by John Cornyn, the second-ranking G.O.P. senator, was to mention that there was nothing new within the Bolton story. Late Tuesday afternoon, Senate Republicans emerged from a gathering at which McConnell had reportedly told them that he not had enough votes to dam witnesses, including Bolton. once more , they tried to stonewall. “I don’t know what we could learn” from witnesses, Rand Paul said to CNN. “We’ve heard all we could possibly hear.”

To be sure, there isn’t far more to be said about Trump’s perfidy, and, within the grand scheme of things, even the spectacle of Bolton providing a firsthand account of the President’s lying and venality might not do him much further damage. We all recall his quote about shooting someone on Fifth Avenue . Many of his supporters enjoy his status as a Washington pariah. But the previous national-security adviser exposure on Capitol Hill and telling his damaging tale (evidently, the Ukraine material isn’t the sole revelation in Bolton’s book) would definitely reflect badly on the Republicans who tried to stop him from appearing. These senators already appear as if patsies and enablers. If Bolton repeated what's reportedly within the book for all the planet to ascertain and listen to , it might make them appear as if blithering idiots also . Who else would have agreed to countenance Trump’s preposterous defense—that his real concern was corruption inside Ukraine?

Regardless of what happens next, the Republicans are still likely to acquit the President—there has never been much doubt that . But if McConnell somehow succeeds in preventing Bolton from testifying in any case this, there can not be even any pretense that the trial is on the extent , or that an acquittal along party lines is anything aside from an abject display of political cowardice and self-abasement by the present generation of Republican senators. For the timely clarification, we are in debt to whoever told the days about what’s in Bolton’s book.




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