When Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said this week that she would not be sending the two articles of impeachment passed by the House of Representatives to the Senate for a trial of President Donald Trump, she made it clear what she expects from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), telling reporters:
“It’s up to the senators to make their own decision, working together. Hopefully in recognition that there are witnesses the president withheld from us, there are documents the president withheld from us, and I would hope that information would be available to go to a trial, to the next step.”
Witnesses and documents. That’s what Pelosi wants, and those two items are essential to any trial anywhere in the world. Without witnesses and documentation, the Senate will merely hold a show trial/kangaroo court that is determined to acquit Trump before it ever begins.
And now we know exactly what some of those once-hidden documents would involve thanks to some excellent reporting from the Center for Public Integrity (CPI), which published its findings at The Daily Beast.
Specifically, CPI found that documents released under court order have been heavily redacted to hide the details of what was said between the Pentagon and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) as the White House withheld $391 million in military aid from Ukraine until Ukrainian officials agreed to open a criminal investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter:
“But considerable evidence is still available that those at key institutions responsible for distributing the Ukraine aid worried the halt potentially violated a 45-year-old law written to keep presidents from ignoring the will of Congress, according to public statements and congressional testimony.”
So while Trump and his Republican defenders continue to maintain that the president committed no crimes and is being impeached out of spite, the redacted documents could well prove otherwise. But if the administration continues to refuse access to them, we may never know exactly who is culpable in the scandal which has led to Trump being only the third president in U.S. history to suffer the humiliation of impeachment.
The law in question that Trump apparently violated is known as the Impoundment Control Act, and it says, in essence:
“Once Congress appropriates funds—like the Ukraine assistance—and the president signs the relevant spending bill, the executive branch must spend those funds. A president cannot simply ignore Congress’s direction, no matter how inconvenient or unappealing that instruction might be. If funds are withheld or shifted elsewhere, this cannot be done in secret, and Congress must approve.”
Witnesses and documents are essential to a Senate trial if the truth is to be known by the American public. That’s why Pelosi is holding out for them. Those documents and key people who have not yet testified — i.e. Former National Security Adviser John Bolton, Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, and Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney — will tell us if Trump does indeed deserve to be removed from office.
It’s been said before but needs to be repeated: If Trump is innocent, why does he refuse to comply with those investigating him? Only a guilty person acts the way he’s acting.