Editorial: Witnesses would have prolonged inevitable
The impeachment trial of President Donald Trump is expected to conclude later this week, without hearing from the additional witnesses demanded by Democrats.
Uncertainty about that outcome was settled when Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, gave Senate Majority Leader the final vote he needed to block the calling of former national security adviser John Bolton and others Democrats believed would bolster their case for removing Trump from office.
Democrats who pushed the impeachment through the House on a straight party line vote and without conceding to Republican requests to call witnesses, are, as expected, crying “cover-up.”
But Alexander got it exactly right in explaining his decision:
“There is no need for more evidence to prove something that has already been proven and that does not meet the United States Constitution’s high bar for an impeachable offense. ...
“The question then is not whether the president did it, but whether the United States Senate or the American people should decide what to do about what he did. I believe that the Constitution provides that the people should make that decision in the presidential election that begins in Iowa on Monday.”
As the senator said, there's little doubt that Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate the appointment of former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, to a lucrative position with a corrupt company in his country. There’s also no question that Trump did so to damage Biden, who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination.
And there is evidence that Trump placed military aid to Ukraine in the balance, although the support was ultimately approved without an investigation of the Bidens.
The issue, as Alexander framed it, is whether that is an impeachable offense. Republicans say no. And hearing additional testimony from Bolton, the witness Democrats demanded, would not have changed their minds.
Bolton’s confirmation of the narrative was unnecessary, particularly since excerpts of his upcoming book continue to leak and are being read into the record by Democrats during the impeachment trial. There was nothing new for Bolton to say.
The other point made by Alexander, and with which we also agree, is that the Founders never intended for impeachment to be a partisan exercise. And that’s what this has been from Day One.
The Democratic led House refused to allow Republicans to call witnesses, or to see all available documents, and rushed the articles of impeachment to the Senate, where they demanded that it suddenly become a fair and objective process.
Prolonging the partisan charade for weeks longer to hear from witnesses who’ve already said their piece would have been pointless. The only purpose it would have served is the one that motivated Democrats to introduce the articles of impeachment in the first place: to damage Trump's reelection hopes.
If Democrats had succeeded in calling Bolton, Republicans would have insisted on hearing from one or both of the Bidens. And that would have brought the already nasty 2020 campaign directly into the Senate chambers.
As Alexander reminded us, that is not what the Founders envisioned.