The Trump administration may have hardened political divisions between kool-aid drinking supporters of the president and Democrats, but it has also brought together people of nominally divergent political stripes in their opposition to the horrors that Donald Trump’s presidency has wrought upon our nation.
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It was a “shared reverence for the rule of law” that brought together the Obama administration’s former Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal and noted “Never Trump” Republican attorney George Conway to pen an op-ed in the New York Times today emphasizing the undeniable importance of former National Security Advisor John Bolton’s statement that he would honor a subpoena to testify before Congress in the Senate impeachment trial of Donald Trump.
The “legal odd couple” — as Katyal refers to their pairing — see Bolton’s move as a turning point.
“In a single stroke, Mr. Bolton, the former national security adviser, elevated truth and transparency over political gamesmanship,” the duo writes.
“The Senate must take him up on his offer, as well as demand the testimony of President Trump and the administration officials he has barred from testifying. The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, reportedly has the votes to proceed with the trial despite no agreement with Democrats on new witnesses and to leave it a question to take up after opening arguments. The Senate still must declare that it will call witnesses during the trial,” Conway and Katyal insist.
Citing the “core principle behind the rule of law” that blind justice must ignore partisan influences on the results of a trial, the pair wonder how Senator McConnell can make statements like “There’s no chance the president is going to be removed from office” without having heard the actual evidence that Bolton is willing to provide, particularly when the hawkish former National Security Advisor has said that he has previously undisclosed material to present.
Combined with the failure of Trump himself to provide a compelling account of his innocence while under oath and the administration’s blocking of crucial witnesses to the Ukraine scandal behind the impeachment charges, Katyal and Conway can only attribute the Senate Majority leader’s determination to preclude a full trial with witnesses to abject fear.
“There is only one possible explanation for this behavior: He is afraid of the truth. Otherwise, what argument can there be for refusing to hear from a central witness like Mr. Bolton, who other witnesses have indicated was exceptionally concerned about the suspension of military aid to Ukraine?,” they write.
With both authors possessing considerable experience in the legal field, they marvel at how GOP senators with law degrees can stomach the perversion of justice being attempted by the Republican party under Trump and McConnell, calling out Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) in particular for their hypocrisy while nodding approvingly at Senator Mitt Romney’s (R-UT) call for Bolton’s testimony and urging moderate Republican senators with a legal background — like Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Rob Portman (R-OH) —to remember the basics of law.
The unlikely allies — united against a president that they see as dangerously out of control and contemptuous of the very applicability of laws against him — conclude their op-ed with a plea to see justice be served through a full and fair impeachment trial that includes testimony from all the relevant parties.
“The Constitution imposes upon the Senate a duty to ‘try all impeachments,’ and so a real trial — with all relevant testimony and evidence — is what is required,” they write.
“This week, Mr. Bolton, himself a lawyer, and recognizing the nature of the Senate’s crucial constitutional obligation, has taken a critical step in the right direction. It’s our hope that Americans will recognize that our commitment to the rule of law is what holds us together” the pair continues.
“The truth may not set the president free, but the Constitution is meant to keep the country free, and an fair and impartial trial is what must take place here,” Conway and Katyal conclude.
With their acknowledgment that the likely outcome of a truly fair trial would not be an exoneration of Donald Trump, Neal Katyal and George Conway must be aware that their plea will likely fall on deaf ears in the higher echelons of the new Trumpified — and, dare it be said, Russified — Republican establishment.
Their insistence on fighting for the rule of law is admirable nonetheless.
Follow Vinnie Longobardo on Twitter.