Mitch McConnell has showed this week how little leverage Nancy Pelosi has over the Senate impeachment trial. He has the 51 votes to dictate the trial's terms, he announced Tuesday. And he won't negotiate with her over those terms, as he said yesterday.
But Pelosi does still have at least one card, and she should play it.
The House Democratic caucus she leads can issue a subpoena for John Bolton, President Trump's former national security adviser, to testify before the House.
During the House impeachment hearings, Bolton — who appears to have damaging evidence about Trump — indicated that he would not testify voluntarily. This week, however, Bolton seemed to change his position and said that he would honor a Senate subpoena.
It's possible, obviously, that he did so believing that McConnell would make sure the Senate never issued one. But Bolton's new position makes it easier for the House to compel him to testify. "By stating that he would testify if the Senate subpoenas him, Bolton has effectively waived any argument against testifying should the House subpoena him," the legal scholar Heidi Kitrosser told The Washington Post.
Benjamin Wittes of Lawfare called Bolton's new position "a strategic opening for Pelosi." As Wittes explained, "A subpoena from the Senate is not, after all, legally different from a subpoena from the House."
Even though the House has already approved two impeachment articles, there is nothing preventing it from calling a new hearing and then issuing a subpoena to Bolton. If he does appear, House Democrats could choose to amend the articles — or leave them as they are. Either way, Democrats would know that the political case for impeaching and removing Trump had become even stronger than it already is.
Impeachment, as I've written before, is an inherently political process. Democrats have little ability to influence Senate Republicans, at least in the short term. But they can and should do everything in their power to influence public opinion, which may well influence the makeup of the Senate and the occupant of the White House in the longer term. For more …
- Kurt Bardella, a former Republican congressional aide, for NBC News Think:
There are two broad reasons why [Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee] should subpoena Bolton. First, because the House should continue its investigation into President Donald Trump's potential abuses of power if new and relevant information becomes available. And second, because symbolically, the House cannot allow the president or Republicans to dictate Congress's constitutional duties.
- Byron York of The Washington Examiner argued that House Democrats could have done more during the impeachment hearings to make Bolton appear:
In the end, Democratic leaders, who had characterized Bolton, Mulvaney, and others as critical witnesses, did not lift as much as a finger to compel their testimony. Pelosi and Schumer held strategy sessions, and, after the House passed impeachment articles, Schumer demanded that witnesses whom the House did not even try to compel to testify absolutely must testify before the Senate.
- Lawfare's Susan Hennessey, on the idea that the House would continue to delay sending the articles of impeachment to the Senate until Bolton testifies:
I'm generally really suspicious of procedural gamesmanship. But this strikes me as substantive and logical. Bolton was refusing to testify before, now he isn't, so go ahead and call him and find out what he knows and then send over the articles. If McConnell agrees to call Bolton in the Senate then the House can send the articles once they have reassurance the testimony will be heard. Withholding the articles was a risk, but the benefit was to preserve control as circumstances change. And now, circumstances have changed.
by David Leonhardt, New York Times, January 9, 2020.
January 10, 2020
Voices4America Post Script. Who can guess what Speaker Pelosi will do next? She has said she will send over the Articles of Impeachment “when [she] is ready." Maybe she should subpoena Bolton as well! Then, we might not not need a Senate hearing. #TrumpResignNow
Breaking- Pelosi Alerts House to Be Ready to Send Impeachment Articles Next Week