Bolton claims he wanted to release information during impeachment, was blocked by White House

John Bolton wrote a book. That seems kind of hard to remember now, but you may recall it as the one that came out just before the one from Donald Trump’s niece that confirms Trump as “the dumbest student” his school had ever seen, and before the book by Bob Woodward that explains how Trump knew about the deadliness of COVID-19, but decided to ignore it because he thought it would be a political “win.” But it was definitely after the 40-something other books (not kidding) about Trump. Somewhere in there.

Once upon a time—with that time being, unbelievably enough, the first month of this interminable year—what Bolton had to say might have mattered. With multiple witnesses at Trump’s impeachment having parts of the story about the effort to extort lies from the government of Ukraine, Bolton was uniquely positioned to fill in critical gaps. His testimony might have carried weight and had historical significance. Senate Republicans eventually voted that they didn’t want to hear from Bolton, or from anyone else, but well before that the former national security adviser made it clear that he wasn’t interested in talking anyway. He was saving it all for his book, where it wouldn’t do a damn thing for the nation but could earn him a tidy profit. Bolton, through his personal decisions, made himself into a minor footnote. 

Even so, it seems that the effort to suppress his book went deeper than has been known, and included interfering with a routine investigation. Because thanks to men like Bolton, there are no rules.

Bolton’s book was originally slated to appear in March. That was then pushed back to May, and eventually slid into June. The biggest reason for the slide was that even though the manuscript had been sitting with the White House for months, the publisher could not get a signal that the book did not contain classified information. Such investigations are routine, and usually result in either a thumbs-up or a list of information that needs to be removed or edited before publication.

That didn’t happen in this case. As the book rolled on toward its final publication date, Trump accused Bolton of knowingly including classified information. The William Barr Justice Department trotted off to do what they always do: act as Trump’s personal attorneys in court. That attempt to block release of the book eventually failed—not least of all because Barr moved at a point where the book was literally on the shelves of bookstores nationwide. However, the judge did have harsh words for Bolton, suggesting that he could forfeit that much-desired profit and possibly face additional penalties for the release of confidential information.

But now it seems that it wasn’t just Barr who was responsible for putting the book on hold. Because other members of Trump’s team interfered with the routine security clearance review of the book, purposely holding the book up to diminish its impact. Meaning that even as they were taking Bolton to court for moving ahead without getting clearance, they were also making sure that he never got clearance.

Bolton’s attorneys made this claim in a letter to the court on Tuesday. As The New York Times reports, Bolton now claims that he wanted to release one portion of his book—a portion relevant to the impeachment trial—at that time. But White House aides blocked the security review even though Bolton didn’t believe that there was any classified material in the section.

At the heart of this appears to be a lawyer named Michael Ellis who was a former assistant to (of course) Rep. Devin Nunes. Despite no background or training in security reviews, Ellis directed the official in charge of the security review to put a freeze on Bolton’s manuscript while he conducted “his own review of the book.” It was Ellis who then claimed that the book was “replete” with classified information. Ellis’ review then became the basis of the Department of Justice claims against Bolton.

No one is crying for John Bolton. Or his mustache. And at this point, the idea that he might have released some information at the time of the impeachment except for some maneuver by the White House dodges the fact that Bolton could have stepped in front of every news camera in the country and told everyone what he knew. However, the attempt to stifle Bolton is just another example of the lengths that the Trump White House has gone to to silence dissent, and the willingness of every Republican involved to throw “normal process” in the waste bin. 

Justice Department has opened a criminal investigation into John Bolton over his anti-Trump book

Donald Trump is good for literature. Actually … that’s overstating it. A lot. But Trump is certainly good for publishers, and for dramatic titles. In one-word titles alone, it’s possible to build a pretty decent description of Trump using Rage, Unhinged, Disloyal, Fear, Hoax. You certainly don’t have to go to Insane Clown President, but … that’s also not a bad description.

The last few weeks have seen Trump’s leveraging his family to fight—and fail—to stop the publication of a book by his niece Mary Trump, and books by former Trump attorney Michael Cohen and former journalist Bob Woodward. The trio of tomes are all hot off the presses and still in the headlines. But it requires rewinding to June 20 (also known as March the 121st , in pandemic dating) to find the focus of Trump’s current disloyal, unhinged, rage hoax. That was the date that a federal judge dismissed attempts by the White House to block publication of John Bolton’s book detailing his time as Trump’s national security adviser. 

During that court case, the judge pointed out multiple times that Trump was attempting to block a book that had already been printed, distributed to warehouses, was on the shelves at thousands of stores, and had already been read by hundreds of critics and journalists. Open barn door? Meet horse. But the judge did not address claims from the Department of Justice that Bolton may have violated national security, though he noted if it was true, Bolton could lose all the profits from the book deal that kept him conveniently mum during Trump’s impeachment. And now the Justice Department has announced an investigation into Bolton because … sure, why not?

The book has been on the stands for four months and is no longer hanging onto a slot in even an extended list of best sellers. There’s nothing to be gained by going after Bolton other than the demonstration that people like Roger Stone, convicted of multiple crimes, get to walk away for being Trump’s pals, while people like Bolton get the weight of the DOJ tossed their way for the crime of insufficient toadying.

But it’s hard to feel like there’s a good guy on either side of this case. After all, Bolton failed to come forward when his testimony mattered, what he ultimately revealed was confirmation of things that had already been stated, and … he’s John Bolton. The best possible ending for this story is that both Trump and Bolton come out with their sub-mud reputations sullied by whatever it is that’s worse than mud.

According to The New York Times, a team within the DOJ has convened a grand jury to hear evidence about Bolton’s use of classified information in his book, aka I couldn’t think of a title so I just stole a line from Hamilton. Bolton has denied that he published classified information. Trump has argued back that Bolton is “a dope” and “incompetent” and “a washed up creepster who … should be in jail” for “trying to make me look bad.” It’s unclear if the grand jury will reward these rubber-meets-glue arguments with an indictment, but it would probably be pretty interesting—and kind of hilarious—to hear the presentation. 

And yes, to be honest it’s clear that the White House purposely refused to provide Bolton with responses on the classification of his submitted manuscript simply in an effort to delay publication and provide Trump with leverage to do exactly what he’s doing right now: conduct a political persecution of a perceived enemy. Bolton shouldn’t face charges for purely political reasons, if for no other reason than on a “first they came for John Bolton, and ...” basis. Still, every DOJ official tied up with going after John Bolton could be busy persecuting a human being instead, so let’s hope this takes some time. And please, if someone is going to leak classified information, how about the transcripts for the presentation to the grand jury?

Trump’s attempt to block release of John Bolton’s book denied by federal judge

Judge Royce Lamberth has denied Donald Trump’s attempt to block the release of John Bolton’s book. In the ruling, Lamberth says that the presentation from William Barr’s DOJ team failed to “established that an injunction is an appropriate remedy.”

During the presentation on Friday, Lamberth repeatedly pointed out that the book was, in fact, already published, printed, in the hands of reviewers, and stacked up in both warehouses and bookstores. Digital versions have also been produced, along with audiobooks. He asked the DOJ “what do you want me to do about it?” and got back a fumbling response about possibly blocking the release in ways that seemed about as well thought out as most things emerging from this White House. In his ruling, Lamberth makes it clear that he was unimpressed: “For reasons that hardly need to be stated, the Court will not order a nationwide seizure and destruction of a political memoir.”

None of this makes Bolton’s book worth buying. The former National Security Advisor’s demonstrated cowardice and greed in refusing to testify before the House impeachment proceedings showed clearly enough that he placed potential profits infinitely above the good of the nation. 

Over the next few days, as the embargo is released, all the “good parts” of Bolton’s book will be made public in any case—including information this morning that makes it clear that Donald Trump was mad at the U. S. attorney who Barr is trying to kick out in part because that attorney screwed up a scheme between Trump and a Turkish bank. And no one really wants to read John Bolton’s opinion on anything. Ever.

Lamberth’s ruling makes it clear that Bolton may have violated national security and that he, “stands to lose his profits from the book deal, exposes himself to criminal liability, and imperils national security.” However, none of that means that this last second maneuver can stop the release of the book.

So Trump loses. Barr loses. And Bolton also loses. That’s a good ruling.

The ruling from judge Lamberth just establishes—again—how willing Bill Barr is to use the Justice Department as if it is Trump’s private law firm. And how amazingly incompetent Barr is in just about every instance. But it also shows that Bolton’s cowardly action is unlikely to net him a dime. You have to like that.

Senate Republicans recommit themselves to Trump—no matter how much he endangers the country

Sure, Donald Trump is unfit. Sure, Trump may have begged yet another country—China—to help him win reelection. Sure, Trump is emotionally damaged and intellectually addled, according to a written account by his former national security adviser John Bolton. 

But does that matter to the Senate Republicans who cosigned Trump's presidency by saving him from conviction without hearing from a single witness? Are you high? No effing way do they have the integrity required for a little self-examination, according to CNN reporting. They're in the tank for Trump—always have been, always will be, no matter what.

Wanna give Senate Republicans the boot? Give $2 right now to say “Bye Felicia” this November.

Asked whether Senate Republicans should have sought to secure Bolton's testimony now that his book is out, the ever-reflective Sen. Ron Johnson responded, "No," adding, "We never should have had an impeachment trial."

Of course, that's not what Bolton said. Based on Trump's persistent pattern of placing his own personal and electoral needs over duty to the country, Bolton said Trump should have been investigated and impeached for more, not less. Trump engaged in "obstruction of justice as a way of life," as Bolton said, referring to his interventions in criminal investigations for personal favors.

Still, Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, who's likely one of the top two most-endangered GOP senators seeking reelection, had the nerve to speak up and blame House Democrats for not taking Bolton to court over this unwillingness to testify. "The House didn't think it was important," Sen. Gardner quipped. What a weasel. Bolton, who's no hero, did publicly express his willingness to testify in front of the GOP-led Senate—the Republican caucus just refused to hear from him, or any other witnesses for that matter.

The sole Republican senator to express regret about not hearing from Bolton also voted in favor of having witnesses at the trial. “I wish we had a trial with the people testifying under oath,” Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah told reporters.

But most Republicans did the only logical thing one could do in the face of a 500-page manuscript documenting the myriad ways in which Trump is selling out and endangering the country: They refused to comment. 

Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, however, really went the extra mile, affirming that he's more convinced than ever that Trump's the right guy for the job despite begging China to buy more agricultural products in order to secure his reelection. "Different people use different sales techniques," Barrasso offered. Whether they’re legal or not apparently isn’t relevant. "Every president has, one way or another, thought they ought to be reelected. I think President Trump should be reelected. I support his reelection, I'm for it."

Do Republicans even know the Constitution exists? They are  proving themselves more useless by the day, and have no business stewarding the country.

Trump’s lawsuit against John Bolton is pointless, incompetent, and weak

A million years ago, in the time before the coronavirus pandemic—a time also known as January—former National Security Advisor John Bolton had a chance to do this nation a solid. In both the House and the Senate, testimony in Donald Trump’s impeachment made it clear that Bolton was a key witness to the events during which Trump had attempted to suborn false statements from the Ukrainian government in an attempt to get a political edge over Joe Biden. Bolton then exacerbated the calls for his appearance at the hearings by leaking excerpts from an upcoming book and promising that there was blockbuster info both in connection to Ukraine and to Trump’s other foreign entanglements.

Even with Republicans putting on a genuinely history show of cowardice in voting to listen to no witnesses at all, Bolton had an opportunity. He didn’t have to testify in the Senate, he just had to … testify. He could have gone on any news show in America and made a genuine impact by revealing the information he knew about Trump’s lies, attempted bribery, incompetence, and profiteering. Instead, Bolton stayed silent, choosing to wait for the moment when his book was released to maximize his own profits while simultaneously assuring that he would not be there when his nation needed him most. So now Bolton’s book is here. Or almost here. Because despite months of review and revision to remove anything that could be considered classified, Donald Trump has now declared that everything is considered classified. Every single word that ever dropped from Trump’s lips has been retroactively classified by Trump. And now he’s suing Bolton to block the release of his book.

Even the title of Bolton’s book, The Room Where It Happened, suggests that Bolton was witness to a crime. And he’ll share the salacious details with the rest of us … for a price. On the one hand, there would be a definite satisfaction if Bolton, who found he liked teasing the nation more than providing vital testimony, never got to profit from his book. His abdication of his responsibilities, not just as a former government official, but as a citizen, was so egregious that watching Bolton and Trump locked in a fruitless legal snarl from now until both have shuffled off, would seem like justice of a sort.

As The New York Times reports, Trump’s suit claims that Bolton has broken an agreement for review of the manuscript and that he’s unilaterally deciding that it’s okay to go forward with the material in the book. Bolton handed over draft copies of the manuscript for review in 2019, and Bolton made changes in response to a set of initial requests. But after that, the response from the Trump White House was to simply not respond. Bolton never got the standard written release to mark the end of the review.

The suit charges Bolton with “breach of contract” in proceeding with publication and distribution of the book without securing that White House approval. Since the Justice Department now acts as Donald Trump’s personal law firm, the DOJ has asked a federal judge to both claw back Bolton’s payment for the book, and tell Bolton to get Simon & Schuster to pull copies from the shelf. The fact that the suit doesn’t name the publisher directly is an indication of just how fragile Trump’s suit really is. There are a semi-infinite number of previous cases that can be referenced when it comes to trying to block the publication of material that’s deemed to be classified, and very few of them are helpful to Trump’s position. So instead the suit skates around trying to extract either money or action directly from the publisher and attempts to both go after Bolton’s pocketbook and force him to act to block sales of the book.

On the one hand, the careful tiptoe made by the DOJ in framing the suit to skirt the publisher is a sign that even William Barr understands how tenuous this attempt to block the book really is. On the other hand, the suit includes claims that Bolton leaked classified information. Leaking classified information is a federal crime. Bolton hasn’t been charged with that crime, but including that claim in the lawsuit certainly suggests that if he doesn’t agree to a further delay of the book, those charges could appear.

But … overall the effort from the DOJ seems to be halfhearted. Everything points to this being more an exercise in Barr making Trump happy than a serious attempt to block publication. Simon & Schuster has actually printed and distributed hundreds of thousands of copies of Bolton’s book to warehouses, and even book stories, across the nation. There’s not so much as a request for a restraining order—even a temporary order—that would stop the publisher from simply giving stores the thumbs-up to begin sales.

Trump’s suit seems to be a good deal of smoke, but there’s little sign it contains any fire. Bolton’s book is going to be released. That doesn’t mean it should be bought.

John Bolton speaks in public at critical moment… to deliver a commercial for his unpublished book

For the first time since House managers asked that he be called as a witness in Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, a call that Senate Republicans immediately shut down, former national security adviser John Bolton has given a public interview. And the information produced in this appearance isn’t something that should be shocking to most Americans: John Bolton is a jackass.

Bolton’s appearance on Monday at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, was technically to be a discussion of threats to national security. But, as might be expected, most of the questions he was asked concerned Bolton’s time in the Trump White House and the issues that led to Donald Trump’s impeachment. Bolton was given multiple opportunities to speak about Trump’s actions involving Ukraine, or what he knew about the scheme against Joe Biden, or how Trump’s political hit squads smeared and removed the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch. And through it all, Bolton had one mustache-twirling response: Buy my book.

That Bolton’s manuscript continues to be held by the White House on claims that it includes highly classified information is itself news. And it’s an issue of genuine concern. Of all the mistakes that Bolton might make, mishandling classified information seems highly unlikely. That the pages have been parked somewhere in a White House sub-basement for this long without even a suggestion as to the exact objections to releasing it is a pretty good indicator that the holdup has nothing to do with Bolton inadvertently revealing something critical to national defense, and everything to do with his being critical of Trump. On that point, what’s happening with Bolton demands not just sympathy, but also attention and demands for more information.

As CNN reports, Bolton talked repeatedly about the "censorship" being applied to his book, about his desire to get events and statements before the public, and about concerns that history be accurately recorded.

That’s all fine. But it’s the way Bolton responded to any factual questions that went instantly beyond off-putting and straight into infuriating. The response to any attempt to solicit information from Bolton or to get him to confirm any item that came up in the House hearings or Senate trial of Trump was never anything more than some variation on “Wait for the book.” The evening was far more a promotion for a book no one can buy than it was a musing on national security.

The highlight in a frustrating list of frustrations may have come when Bolton was asked whether he considered Trump’s July 25 call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky “perfect,” as Trump has so often called it. "You'll love Chapter 14," said Bolton. It went that way throughout the evening.

Bolton did make broad statements on some topics, such as when he said that he saw from the beginning that Trump’s policies toward North Korea were going to fail. On his signature issue of Iran, Bolton predictably felt that Trump had not applied enough “pressure.” He didn’t quite shout, “Bomb, bomb, bomb” … he only implied it.

But much of the interview devolved into an ouroboros that went from how terrible it was that Bolton’s book was being held to how much he wanted everyone to have access to that sweet, sweet history that’s … in the book. Of course, that history was also in Bolton’s head, and he could have relayed the critical issues to the American public at any moment by just opening his mustache prop and explaining what he knew. Only then, who would buy the book?

Meanwhile, Donald Trump has the ability not just to declassify anything he wants, but also to slap a top-secret classification on anything, up to and including the contents of his taco salad. Whether or not Bolton’s book ever appears, or appears only after adjustments to explain that Trump is the bestest, smartest, handsomest scratch-golfing genius ever, remains an open question. 

Bolton has another interview to give on his tour to promote a book that might never come out. Don’t count on it being any more informative.

Diplomats who risked their careers to tell the truth about Trump face life in a post-cover-up world

One after another, career foreign service professionals came forward to testify about what they saw of Donald Trump’s pressure campaign against Ukraine. They did so, they repeatedly stressed, not out of partisan motives but out of concern for national security. And they’re getting hung out to dry. In interviews with CNN, many of them expressed concern about their careers going forward, after Senate Republicans vote to acquit Trump, and about the damage done to U.S. foreign policy.

“All the carnage for something that doesn't mean very much,” said one. “Our domestic political battles have just trampled over what our national interests are.”

Some, CNN reports, are especially angry with former national security adviser John Bolton, who protected his own future in Republican circles by refusing to testify right up until Senate Republicans could block him from even being asked. Bolton was “trying to have it both ways,” said one of the officials who did testify. “Great. So our lives are ruined, our names dragged through the mud, but [Bolton] gets to wash his hands of it,” said another.

Looming over them is the concern that Trump, with his ever-growing enemies list, will retaliate against anyone who testified. “It would be bad politics for Trump to be seen as going after mid-level folks. And it would take effort,” said one. But “If he is reelected, he will feel emboldened, and this is where he could go after what he deemed the 'Deep State.’”

Moscow Mitch: Master of covering up Trump’s election cheating

Moscow Mitch McConnell, so well-known for, among other things, his efforts to cover up Russia's interference on behalf of Donald Trump in the 2016 election, is now scorching the political ground of the Senate over the idea that an impeached Trump should be convicted and removed from office for trying to extort and bribe Ukraine into interfering on his behalf in 2020.

In a particularly loathsome and vile performance Tuesday, McConnell said, "It insults the intelligence of the American people to pretend this was a solemn process reluctantly begun because of withheld foreign aid." Which is really a leap, since the majority of the American people support Trump's impeachment and at least pluralities support his removal from office. If the intelligence of the American people is being insulted here, it's by the travesty he and fellow Republicans are inflicting on the republic.

It's time to end McConnell's destructive stranglehold on the republic. Please give $1 to our nominee fund to help Democrats and end McConnell's career as Senate majority leader.

"We must vote to reject the House's abuse of power," McConnell said, and "vote to keep factional fever from boiling over and scorching our Republic." Yes, this is the same McConnell who has been coordinating with Trump's lawyers—including Pat Cipollone, who turned out to be a material witness to Trump's attempted extortion of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky—at every step of the way in this process.

The man who says partisan fever "led to the most rushed, least fair and least thorough presidential impeachment inquiry in American history" is trying to keep "factional fever" from "scorching our Republic." That's really rich. There's only one answer from a smart American public: We end his Senate majority.

Plotting impeachment revenge, Trump ‘has an enemies list that is growing by the day’

Donald Trump is preparing his revenge against everyone who has crossed him. Just as he got on the phone with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and committed an impeachable offense the day after Robert Mueller testified before Congress, Trump will take the success of the Senate Republican impeachment cover-up as license to commit new abuses of power and acts of personal retribution.

This is completely clear to anyone who’s observed Trump even casually, but Republican sources are also lining up to (anonymously) dish to reporters. “It’s payback time,” one “prominent Republican” told Vanity Fair, while, according to another source, “He has an enemies list that is growing by the day.”

Enemy No. 1 is former national security adviser John Bolton, who it seems is “going to go through some things.” In addition to the White House threatening Bolton’s publisher over the contents of his forthcoming book, Trump wants Bolton himself criminally investigated, a source told Gabriel Sherman. But even if a criminal investigation doesn’t materialize, “Trump has been calling people and telling them to go after Bolton.”

It’s not just Bolton, though. Republican Sen. Mitt Romney dared to vote for witnesses in the impeachment trial, so he’s in trouble. Reps. Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler led the impeachment inquiry and the team of House managers at the trial, so they’re on the enemies list.

It’s exactly what you’d expect from Trump. He expects to be free from any consequences for his actions, and anyone who threatens what he sees as his royal prerogative is going to be the target of his unhinged narcissistic rage. Expect the next several months to be even uglier than what we’ve already seen—but nothing compared to what will happen if he manages to cheat his way to a win in November.

Senate Republicans were on trial. They chose to betray America

If watching Senate Republicans turn a blind eye to duty, truth, their oaths of office, public opinion, and the well-being of the republic left you with a pit in your stomach this week, then rest assured that you are not alone. But while most Daily Kos readers knew the fix was in before the Senate charade ever started, many Americans likely did not. In poll after poll after, voters told pollsters that they wanted and in some polls expected to hear from witnesses. For starters, it was common sense. Everyone knows that trials include witnesses, and historically every single impeachment trial until now has also included witness testimony. 

Making matters worse for Senate Republicans, Donald Trump's defenders in the House had whined relentlessly about "second-, third-, fourth-, and fifthhand" witnesses. They made firsthand witnesses indispensable and suggested America would never know the truth without them. Even Trump spent a good portion of the fall and winter clamoring for witnesses once the impeachment inquiry reached the Senate, where finally things would be fair.

And almost magically, the star witness appeared: former White House national security adviser John Bolton. He was a West Wing insider with direct access to Trump and a veteran of every Republican administration dating back to Ronald Reagan. He was a conservative stalwart and rock-ribbed defense hawk with sterling cred among GOP lawmakers. Even better, progressives typically despised him, making him among the most trustworthy of witnesses among Republicans. And lo and behold, unlike other Trump officials, he was willing to talk and even said so in a statement issued right as the Senate got back to work in the New Year. What luck!

Now just imagine America's surprise as the perfect firsthand witness went untapped for weeks on end. After months of Trump hyping all that witness testimony in the Senate, he suddenly went cold on the idea. When his attorneys began to argue their case, the nation was told that House managers had utterly failed to prove Trump's guilt on one hand but that further inquiry was verboten on the other. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell even tried to kill the mere prospect of witness testimony before the trial ever started, but he was ultimately reduced to making handwritten adjustments in the margins of his resolution so that calling witnesses could be considered after both impeachment teams had made their case. Apparently, even some members of McConnell's caucus didn't see how they could sell that preemptive gag order back home. 

As the trial ground on, suspense built with headlines emerging about what Bolton had committed to paper in his forthcoming book. First, the public learned Trump had told Bolton directly he wanted to continue withholding aid to Ukraine until the country's top officials started investigations into Democrats and, more specifically, the Bidens. Next, Bolton's manuscript expressed his distress over Trump granting personal favors to autocratic leaders in his view. Finally, as the trial headed toward that crucial vote on witness testimony Friday, another morning jolt brought news that White House counsel Pat Cipollone—Trump's lead attorney at the trial—had witnessed Trump ordering Bolton to help with his pressure campaign by facilitating a meeting between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Rudy Giuliani. 

As if all that wasn't enough, news also broke Friday that Giuliani associate Lev Parnas was prepared to detail the entire conspiracy in testimony, front to back, with receipts. As former federal prosecutor Joyce Vance noted on MSNBC, "This is a prosecutor's dream, right? You've actually got Lev Parnas and John Bolton in a bidding war over who gets to be your star witness." Wow, how could Republicans possibly pass up the wealth of information beating down the doors to the Senate chamber? 

And yet, that's exactly what they voted to do late Friday. In the face of polls showing nearly three-quarters of the country agreed on the need for witnesses, Senate Republicans turned their backs on America. Sure, they're public servants who've been entrusted with the responsibility of protecting the Constitution. But when the time came to take a principled stand, they saluted to Individual 1, circled the wagons, and deep-sixed testimony for the remainder of the trial. All that's left of the Senate proceeding is a bunch of self-gratifying speechifying as Senate Republicans try to recast their cowardice in acceptable terms. 

The cover-up is complete. And it wasn't just helpful to Trump, it was an absolute necessity. If Bolton had testified, he would have implicated multiple Trump officials in Trump's scheme, including Cipollone, Trump's chief defense attorney. Just to be clear, most legal scholars were aghast that anyone from the White House counsel's office was defending Trump in the first place. It's a taxpayer-funded position charged with representing the Office of the President, not the president him/herself. But what we know now is that he wasn't just protecting Trump, he was protecting himself, serving himself—on the taxpayers' dime. Trump's Ukraine conspiracy was a global effort among his top advisers. Everyone knew, even the White House counsel (who, by the way, is supposedly leading an inquiry into who put the transcript of Trump's July 25th call with President Volodymyr Zelensky into the super secret server.)  Or as Gordon Sondland said repeatedly, "Everyone was in the loop." Yet, among Trump's looped-in top advisers, only one person is willing to talk.

As a matter of civic service, the nation could have benefited from hearing Bolton's truth during the Senate trial. Some Americans who had not followed the House hearing closely enough to see how corrosive Trump's actions were would have walked away better informed about the unimaginable danger he poses to the nation.

But politically speaking, this proceeding was never about putting Trump on trial—everyone who had been paying attention knew the outcome in advance, including Nancy Pelosi. It was about putting the GOP-led Senate on trial. That's why Pelosi held the articles of impeachment for nearly a month, so she could frame the proceeding as a referendum on Senate Republicans. And guess what? They failed spectacularly in a disgraceful show of craven hubris. They couldn't even fake impartiality long enough to allow for witnesses to be heard. In the end, they offered America no justice—no feeling of finality—just a hollow sense of being wronged with no recourse. 

But here's the silver lining: During a time when Washington commanded the attention of most Americans and when polling consistently showed that voters overwhelmingly craved resolution, Senate Republicans exposed themselves a nothing short of tools of Trump's regime. They no longer serve the people, they serve him and him only.

Pundits across spectrum smelled trouble for Senate Republicans. "I think (McConnell) underestimates the backlash to this vote," conservative radio host Charlie Sykes told MSNBC. "I think people are going to be a lot more angry about this vote on the witnesses than folks in Washington really understand. And it really does put the Senate in play."

Former GOP operative Nicolle Wallace called the vote “political suicide,” adding, “I hope they take it." They did.

So as we enter the start of the Democratic nomination contest in earnest on Monday, bundle up all that rage and take it to the polls. Let it drive your engagement and participation throughout the rest of the year until Election Day.

"Never stop being a prisoner of hope," Sen. Cory Booker told MSNBC this week at a dark moment, invoking the resolve shown throughout history after the Battle of Bunker Hill, the Birmingham Church bombing, and the showdown at Stonewall. "This election is about so much more now than a choice between a Democrat and Republican president."