Despite relentless coverage of the Senate impeachment trial on major news networks, the process itself does not stand to result in anything more than an acquittal of the president. Regardless of this reality, the fact remains that Congress has invoked the most serious and severe executive check within its toolbox, and Donald Trump cannot be allowed to subvert this fundamental element of the Constitution without being held accountable for the truth.
While strictly speaking with regards to the constitution, it may be acceptable for the Senate to move on without allowing witnesses to come forward, but it would be a severe disservice to the American people. Former White House National Security Adviser John Bolton has said that he would be willing to testify, and as someone who has direct knowledge of the president’s interactions with Ukraine, Americans should be afforded every opportunity to hear what he has to say about their president.
On Jan. 15, Nancy Pelosi and the other members of the House voted to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate. The articles allege that the president abused his power and obstructed justice by leveraging nearly $400 million in military aid and a White House visit to pressure the president of Ukraine into investigating the son of former Vice President Joe Biden. Contributing to the obstruction of justice count, President Trump has gone out of his way to block his senior aides and former advisers from testifying.
The president’s arguably overzealous invocation of executive privilege has resulted in many of the most important names in the impeachment case from being called on by representatives, forcing Nancy Pelosi to send the articles to the Senate with the hope that Democrats will find a way to get vital witnesses to come forward during the Senate trial. This step will prove difficult, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pledged “total coordination” with the White House leading up to the Senate impeachment trial, according to The New York Times. McConnell has controlled the impeachment trial every step of the way in the Senate and thus has postponed any chance of calling witnesses until after the opening arguments, which should be completed by early next week. Sen. Marco Rubio from Florida argued they should only vote on the evidence collected in the House for impeachment: “Our job is to vote on what the House passed, not to conduct an open-ended inquiry.”
A poll from the Associated Press- NORC Center for Public Affairs Research indicated that 7 in 10 respondents believed that Trump should allow top aides to testify while only 45% said that the Senate should convict him. In other words, of the Americans who are aware of the trial, even those who believe that President Trump should be acquitted would like to hear from those he prevented from coming forward in the first place.
Regardless of what the president may or may not think, this is not one of his hotels or television shows where he is beholden to no one but himself. He is accountable to the American people above all else, and, whether or not there is a Senate majority determined to acquit him, those who elected him deserve to know just what it is that he’s been up to, especially when John Bolton is waiting in the wings to tell them.