Schiff to Senate: How can you search for the truth without calling Bolton?

That’s actually a pretty good question — one that Adam Schiff should answer for himself. Just imagine where we’d be if Adam Schiff had done his job properly and subpoenaed John Bolton in the first place. At the very least, we’d have gotten a sneak peak at the Stache’s memoirs.

First, though, Schiff has to get past the irony in this argument. “I don’t know how you can explain,” he tells Alisyn Camerota, “that you wanted a search for the truth in this trial, and say that you don’t want to hear from a witness who had a direct conversation about the central allegation in the articles of impeachment”:

Ahem. Doesn’t that also apply to Schiff’s own House investigation? Why didn’t Schiff pursue a subpoena then, if that is the measure of whether the process was a “search for the truth”? Bolton suggested publicly that he had information germane to the probe but said a court would need to litigate the issues of executive privilege. Schiff was more interested in issuing an impeachment before Christmas than hearing from “a witness who had a direct conversation,” and dropped the effort to get testimony from Bolton.

House Democrats complain that it would have taken years to litigate that, but that’s not true — and any lack of expedition would have been their fault anyway. Democrats tried to retain deniability on impeachment all through the process by refusing to vote explicitly to authorize the process. Had they done so, federal courts would have not just expedited the challenges over executive privilege, they likely would have broadened the House’s reach over executive branch documentation as well. Even without that, federal courts would still have treated the matter with considerable urgency. Schiff wanted to manufacture an obstruction charge rather than conduct “a search for the truth.”

Besides, that court fight will still have to take place. Regardless of what Bolton wrote in his memoirs, executive privilege still applies to advisory conversations on policy. Any subpoena for Bolton’s testimony and/or notes will kick-start a legal fight that could last a few months, a point that Mitch McConnell is no doubt emphasizing with his caucus at the moment. Do they want to drag this out until the summer when the ultimate outcome is all but assured?

At this point, they may not have much choice. Get ready for a Supreme Court ruling this summer, with or without a John Roberts recusal.