They fear new revelations

It’s always worse. Greg Sargent at the Post sums up the new evidence on how bad it is:

If Mitch McConnell is going to pull off his scheme to turn President Trump’s impeachment trial into a quick and painless sham with no witnesses, the Senate majority leader needs the story to be covered as a conventional Washington standoff — one that portrays both sides as maneuvering for advantage in an equivalently political manner.

But extraordinary new revelations in the New York Times about Trump’s corrupt freezing of military aid to Ukraine will — or should — make this much harder to get away with.

Not everything is left v right, Dems v Republicans, Big End v Little End. Much of what’s awful about Trump isn’t political in that sense. But McConnell needs to frame it that way to save Trump’s oozing hide.

If Republicans bear the brunt of media pressure to explain why they don’t want to hear from witnesses, that risks highlighting their true rationale: They adamantly fear new revelations precisely because they know Trump is guilty — and that this corrupt scheme is almost certainly much worse than we can currently surmise.

The Times report makes some of that clearer than it was.

The report demonstrates in striking detail that inside the administration, the consternation over the legality and propriety of the aid freeze — and confusion over Trump’s true motives — ran much deeper than previously known, implicating top Cabinet officials more deeply than we thought.

Mulvaney got to work on freezing the aid to Ukraine in June, and one of his top aides “worried it would fuel the narrative that Trump was tacitly aiding Russia.”

Internal opposition was fierce.

The Pentagon pushed for the money for months. Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and then-national security adviser John Bolton privately urged Trump to understand that freezing the aid was not in our national interest.

Trump brushed them off, babbling about Ukraine’s “corruption.”

Lawyers at the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) worked to develop a far-fetched legal argument that Trump could exercise commander-in-chief authority to override Congress’ appropriation of the aid, to get around the law precluding Trump from freezing it.

That’s a striking one. White House lawyers tried to create their own special legal theory that would make it ok for Trump to ignore the law.

One of Trump’s people tried to get the Pentagon to say it was all their fault, which left one Pentagon official speechless.

Duffey froze the aid with highly unusual bureaucratic tactics, refused to tell Pentagon officials why Trump wanted it withheld and instructed them to keep this “closely held.” (Some of this had already been reported, but in narrative context it becomes far more damning.)

All this for the sake of trying to steal the upcoming election.

What makes all this new information really damning, however, is that many of these officials who were directly involved with Trump’s freezing of aid are the same ones Trump blocked from appearing before the House impeachment inquiry.

This should make it inescapable that McConnell wants a trial with no testimony from these people — Democrats want to hear from Mulvaney, Bolton, Duffey and Blair — precisely because he, too, wants to prevent us from ever gaining a full accounting.

In short McConnell wants to help a criminal get away with crimes in aid of stealing the next election.

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