As Donald Trump spent his morning gloating over his apparent clear path to an acquittal in the impeachment charges against him by a compliant GOP-controlled Senate that voted to exclude further witnesses and evidence, details of an amazingly-timed coincidence emerged.
Just a few short hours after the Republican Senators surrendered their independence and integrity to the con-man-in-chief by refusing to consider further emerging evidence of his criminal conduct, Trump’s Department of Justice filed court papers that revealed late Friday that it in possession of two dozen emails concerning Donald Trump’s involvement in the withholding of millions in desperately needed military aid to Ukraine.
As reported by CNN, the new court filing represents the first official admittance by the administration that such evidence of Trump’s thoughts on the withholding of the security assistance actually exists in the files of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The emails reportedly show that the president was “directly involved in asking about and deciding on the aid as early as June.”
“A lawyer with the Office of Management and Budget wrote to the court that 24 emails between June and September 2019 — including an internal discussion among DOD officials called ‘POTUS follow-up’ on June 24 — should stay confidential because the emails describe ‘communications by either the President, the Vice President, or the President’s immediate advisors regarding Presidential decision-making about the scope, duration, and purpose of the hold on military assistance to Ukraine,'” CNN stated.
The emails are among the documents withheld from House investigators when the Trump administration refused to honor their subpoenas in defiance of the law and all previous precedent in impeachment inquiries.
The House committees conducting the investigations that led to the articles of impeachment that they eventually forwarded to the Senate acknowledged that further documentation of the validity of the charges they issued likely existed, but that the court battles to get a hold of them would take so long — and the danger to the country that Trump would continue to try to use foreign assistance to interfere in the 2020 presidential election was too great — to wait for litigation to force the administration to divulge the documentation that they held.
“‘The Committees also have good-faith reason to believe that the Office of Management and Budget is in possession of and continues to withhold significantly more documents and records responsive to the subpoena and of direct relevance to the impeachment inquiry,’ the House wrote before it voted to impeach the President for obstruction of Congress,” CNN reported.
The new information about the evidence being hidden by the OMB demonstrates at least one reason why the Senate Republicans under Mitch McConnell were so anxious to vote against the presentation of further evidence in Trump’s trial.
The administration was facing a court-ordered deadline of midnight last night to deliver to the judge overseeing a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit “an email-by-email breakdown of what the Justice Department redacted or withheld in Defense Department and OMB emails about the aid, and why it did so.”
While it’s unlikely that the revelations about the existence of this additional evidence would have changed the mind of a single Republican Senator more concerned with acquitting the president than supporting the rule of law — especially since they failed to be swayed by the availability of former National Security Advisor John Bolton’s first-hand testimony about his conversation with Trump about the “drug deal,” as he described the president’s extra-governmental foreign policy initiative to aid his own reelection campaign as well as the incriminating videos released by Indicted Giuliani associate Lev Parnas.
Still, the confirmation of the existence of the emails being suppressed is a bitter pill for Democrats and every concerned American to swallow after the Republicans’ faithless abandonment of their constitutional responsibilities to hold a full and fair impeachment trial on the serious charges that Trump was charged with.
That the disputed evidence is in the form of emails is particularly ironic given Trump’s campaign rhetoric calling for his rival Hillary Clinton to be “locked up” for her supposed email transgressions.
As Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said after yesterday’s fateful vote — a vote he called ” a grand tragedy” — Republicans will come to regret their votes as the mountain of evidence against the president continues to leak out in the days and months ahead.
Trump may have escaped accountability for now, but the last laugh will come when the truth is fully exposed by all the available evidence.
Original reporting by Katelyn Polantz at CNN.