I’m rocked. Until this morning, Pelosi and Schumer had no leverage to get McConnell to call witnesses. “We want to hear from Bolton and Mulvaney!” they cried. To which Republicans calmly repled, “Then you should have called them during the House proceedings. But you were in a hurry, not wanting to spend months fighting in court to try to compel their testimony. You missed your chance. Now we’re in a hurry too.”
There’s nothing Democrats could do about that. The only prayer they had was to have Bolton and/or Mulvaney signal they’re willing to testify, which would spare Senate Republicans from a long court fight to get them to appear, and there seemed to be zero chance of that happening. Mulvaney is still the chief of staff, after all, beholden to the president’s wishes. And although Bolton’s now a somewhat disgruntled former aide, he’s kept his head down during the impeachment saga. No Democrat-friendly soundbites from him about Trump’s guilt, no inkling that he had any intention of cooperating. Impeachment was going to have to play out without any damning testimony from the president’s inner circle, making acquittal easy for Senate Republicans and a speedy, risk-free trial easy for McConnell.
And now here we are, on the first day back from the holiday break, and the table that was being carefully set has been flipped.