It’s only fitting in 2019 that one of the most crucial witnesses to the Ukraine process would finally break his silence … on Twitter, with a pair of tweets that made it sound vaguely as though he just escaped from a Trump dungeon somewhere.

If he really does have beans to spill about Trump’s complicity in the Ukraine matter, he should just go ahead and tweet that out too. That’s the ending this story deserves — the ugly truth served up seriatim in 280-character bites on the president’s preferred platform for calling his opponents “human scum.”

It sounds like the “backstory” Bolton has in mind has to do with how his Twitter account was muffled, not the backstory about you-know-what. We’ll see. Maybe the two are related!

As you might imagine, anti-Trumpers are quite eager indeed to hear his testimony about Ukraine:

Given that impeachment polling is already trending away from Democrats and towards Trump, I take it Pelosi isn’t gung ho to throw a former National Security Advisor into a makeshift prison in the Capitol basement until he testifies. That might just play into the Republican narrative that Democrats have “overreached” on Ukraine and let their hatred of all things Trump get the better of their judgment.

Still, they reeeeally want to hear from Bolton. He’s the missing puzzle piece who seems most likely to support the Democratic argument that Trump is guilty of malfeasance. Rudy Giuliani obviously knows more about what went down between Trump and Ukraine than Bolton does since he was directly involved, but it’s unclear if Rudy could be forced to testify in light of attorney-client privilege (and the Fifth Amendment!). Mick Mulvaney knows more too since it was his agency, OMB, that blocked the Ukraine money from being released, but as the current chief of staff, Mulvaney presumably has a strong claim of executive privilege to protect him from testifying. Bolton, though, is an ex-employee. And he’s on the outs with Trump after clashing with him repeatedly on foreign policy this year. And he allegedly told Fiona Hill that he wasn’t part of the “drug deal” Giuliani was cooking up with Ukraine, signaling his contempt for whatever Trump and Rudy were up to. Odds are high that Bolton would support at least the Democratic claim that what Trump did was inappropriate, if not quite bribery.

But the clock’s ticking on impeachment and at the moment Bolton has shown no willingness to testify until the courts provide some resolution on whether executive privilege bars him from doing so or not. The Times wonders today what’ll happen if Dems wrap up impeachment and then a district court somewhere decides that Bolton does have to testify if called. Would House Democrats be willing to gamble spectacularly by calling Bolton to testify at Trump’s Senate trial without having him testify first in the House? You might say, “Sure, they have nothing to lose since Trump’s going to be acquitted anyway.” But they do have something to lose: If Bolton were to say that Trump did nothing improper as far as he knows, the backlash against impeachment could intensify. Then Democrats are facing a problem in November. That would be a momentous backfire.

The best piece I’ve read on impeachment today is this one at the Atlantic describing how gratified Democrats have felt by the past two weeks of House testimony. At first blush, that’s strange. Why would they be gratified when it’s clear now that virtually no Republicans will be voting against the president, and therefore there’s zero chance of actually removing him? The answer, as I said yesterday, is that the parties’ goals on impeachment have diverged. Republicans want to see Trump acquitted, ideally with zero GOP defections and maybe a few Democratic crossovers like Joe Manchin. Don’t just defeat impeachment, defeat it resoundingly. Democrats, though, have digested that Trump’s presidency will continue but find the catharsis provided by the hearings rewarding. Unusually for Trump, there has been a form of accountability here — not to the extent that he’ll be removed from office but enough that he’s going to end up as just the third president in American history to be impeached.

The Democrats I talked with who flocked to Capitol Hill to see the hearings in person weren’t there to witness the buildup to the eventual removal of a president. They were there, they told me, to offer a show of support for the democratic process. “If impeachment succeeds or fails [to remove the president], just getting into this line and saying ‘What happened is not right,’ it makes sense to me,” said Raj Nath, a Best Buy salesman who lives in Reston, Virginia. Melanie Robertson, an architect who traveled from Piedmont, California, just to see the hearings in person, called her trip “a recon mission to save democracy.”

Others were optimistic that the mere fact that the hearings were being conducted is evidence that American democracy is, at least in this arena, functioning as it should. “Getting to see the evidence laid out right now makes me feel a little bit better about my country,” 58-year-old Bill Condell told me while he waited in line to see Sondland’s testimony on Wednesday. “This is a civics lesson that only comes around every few generations,” said Liz Marshall, a resident of Takoma Park, Maryland, who stood in line with her teenage son. “It is an example of checks and balances, an example of democracy working.”…

“I’m reassured,” said Bannon Kulsrethsiri, “that [democracy] in this country is not completely kaput.”

The punchline is that he’ll inevitably react to acquittal as a license to try something like this again. Adam Schiff marveled in yesterday’s closing statement that Trump’s July 25 phone call with Zelensky came just one day after Robert Mueller finally testified before Congress about Russiagate. After 18 months of suspicion about collusion with a foreign government to influence an election, said Schiff, here was Trump immediately on the phone with Ukraine to see what they could find out about the Democratic frontrunner for president. Trump’s going to be acquitted for that, though. And, further incentivizing him, he may be gaining in the polls right now as voters sour on impeachment. And on top of that he surely realizes that Democrats can’t impeach him again, at least not before the election. No matter what he does next year, the obvious response will be that the voters should decide in November. Pelosi will be terrified of the electorate viewing Democrats as impeachment-crazed and will strictly forbid it unless Trump really does shoot someone in broad daylight on Fifth Avenue. Any anti-Trumper who thinks he might be chastened by this ordeal into not bringing up Democratic candidates with other foreign leaders going forward is kidding themselves. The opposite is more likely true.

Update: He tweeted again five minutes after I published this. Stay tuned!