Via the Right Scoop, a valiant attempt by the Senate’s most closely watched Republican to make lemonade out of the lemons she was handed yesterday by the news. It’s not easy to spin a story like “Key crony of president’s lawyer may have conspired to stalk U.S. ambassador in Ukraine.”
But she’s gonna make the effort, at least, damn it.
I wonder if there’s more to this answer than her trying to dodge questions in the short term about the bizarre story of Lev Parnas and Robert Hyde seemingly organizing surveillance of Marie Yovanovitch.
.@SenatorCollins “I’m perplexed that the house is sending over some additional information which should’ve been included earlier it appears.”
Q: It was just made available.
COLLINS: “Then that means the house rushed their proceedings, doesn’t it.”
— julie faye tsirkin (@julietsirkin) January 15, 2020
Susan Collins throws cold water on new Lev Parnas evidence. “I wonder why the House did not put that into the record and it’s only now being revealed.” Told it was just turned over, she says: “well doesn’t that suggest that the House did an incomplete job then?” @Phil_Mattingly
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) January 15, 2020
Is she … laying the groundwork for refusing to call Parnas as a witness? We know now that Schumer will demand that he testify. We can also safely assume that that testimony won’t be great for Trump given how eager Parnas seems to be to cooperate with the House probe, hoping that he might catch a break from a judge in his federal criminal case if he shows he’s a good boy. Collins can tolerate having John Bolton testify since he was never the sort of close Trump confidant who might know the goriest details about the Ukraine business, and even if he was he could probably be blocked via executive privilege from revealing things Trump told him in confidence about policy there.
But Parnas is way too unpredictable. Collins needs her “not guilty” vote to look as credible as possible. What if he gets on the stand and says something legitimately incriminating?
She’s got to find a reason to vote against letting him testify. Maybe we’ve just heard it — if Dems wanted this evidence considered, they should have produced it before Trump was impeached. I’m stuck assessing the evidence set forth in Schiff’s committee report, Collins might say. If Dems don’t like that, well, that’s their problem for rushing to impeach POTUS.
Couple of problems with that, though. One, obviously, is that calling Bolton would blow up her logic. If she considers herself bound to consider only the evidence produced before the impeachment vote then she can’t rightly hear Bolton’s testimony. Or could she? There’s a loophole potentially: “Bolton was being blocked at the time by ‘absolute immunity,'” she could say, “whereas Parnas wasn’t. Democrats can’t be blamed for Bolton’s failure to testify but they can certainly be blamed for Parnas’s.” But that wouldn’t make sense. Dems could have tried to force Bolton to testify and fought Trump in court over it, allowing that process to take however long it took before proceeding with impeachment. Schumer might also note that Parnas was busy wrangling with the DOJ while impeachment was proceeding and the House didn’t want to interfere with that process. Now that Parnas is more available as a witness, the prosecution shouldn’t be punished for producing his evidence belatedly.
And at the end of the day, Democrats will say, it doesn’t matter when evidence is produced. What matters is whether Trump is innocent or guilty and whether Susan Collins truly intends to undertake a good-faith effort to ascertain that. If she’s as serious about it as she’s telling swing voters she is then she needs to know what Parnas knows. End of story.
What could she say in response? “I tend to like information,” she quipped yesterday when a reporter noted that she supported calling witnesses during Clinton’s impeachment trial and also supported further investigation during Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing. Well, now she has some new information.
And she may soon have more:
Lead House manager Adam Schiff tells @sarahdwire & me he expects new impeachment evidence to emerge in the course of a Senate trial.
“There’s going to be new evidence coming out all the time," Schiff said. That evidence, he said, "should be admitted."https://t.co/aMvIsVPY1Q
— Jennifer Haberkorn (@jenhab) January 15, 2020
Is Liddle Adam Schiff going to be rolling out new documents all the way up to closing arguments in the trial? That does make it seem like House Dems didn’t do their homework, although I’m sure they’d accept that perception as a price worth paying for rolling out further incriminating material in the next few weeks. With the verdict assured, impeachment is now a pure PR war. Anything Dems can do to convince voters that Trump is guilty and that Senate Republicans are covering up for him they’ll consider a moral victory, notwithstanding the “not guilty” verdict or public opinion that they went waaaaay too fast on impeachment given all the evidence that came out afterwards.
By the way, if you’re not free and/or in front of a TV tonight at 9 p.m., you might want to change that. News will be made here, assuredly:
9pm ET on MSNBC
Giuliani associate Lev Parnas breaks his silence as he and his lawyer sit down with Rachel Maddow. pic.twitter.com/jHH8EWOQbB
— Maddow Blog (@MaddowBlog) January 15, 2020
If Parnas has anything whatsoever to say that’s new about Trump and Giuliani, which seems like a safe bet, then the media will go nuts tomorrow insisting that he be called to testify. Then it’ll be Collins’s and McConnell’s move.
Here’s Chris Wallace earlier today on Fox News noting that Pelosi’s “impeach and withhold” strategy was a total failure insofar as it didn’t force McConnell to commit to calling any witnesses. True, but Mitch’s big win has been complicated subsequently by Bolton’s willingness to testify. They’re probably going to have to call him, if only for appearance’s sake. And delaying the trial did give Schiff more time to pull together new evidence like the texts between Parnas and Hyde. If Pelosi was delaying to buy time, because she had/has reason to believe that more is coming and didn’t want the trial to end before it was ready, then there’s a method to her madness after all.
FOX News' Chris Wallace on Nancy Pelosi's impeachment delay:
"If the purpose was to force Mitch McConnell to bow to her will and agree to call witnesses and get more documents, then it was a total failure. There’s no question about it. She didn't do that." pic.twitter.com/RDm5aVGvBz
— Francis Brennan (Text TRUMP to 88022) (@FrancisBrennan) January 15, 2020
Update: Right, this is how Schumer’s going to counter Collins’s “you should have produced this evidence before” argument.
Here's the context that Collins is ignoring: DOJ seized Parnas' phones and other materials when he was arrested in October, before he got the House subpoena. Parnas only recently got his devices back from the DOJ and secured permission from a judge to give this stuff to Congress. https://t.co/lod777byFX
— Marshall Cohen (@MarshallCohen) January 15, 2020