B3-FY440_Noonan_SOC_20200123195653.jpg


We must take our satisfactions where we can. It is not terrible for the young that they witness a certain gravity emanating from Congress. There’s a lot to be learned and reminded of when we speak of the genius of the Founders and quote Hamilton, Madison and the others as they created the political arrangements by which we live. These were not shallow men. It’s good to be reminded that for all our flaws as a nation and a people, we came from something magnificent and are the heirs of that magnificence. It is good for the young to see our representatives enact, sometimes actually model, personal dignity. Impeachment manager

Rep. Zoe Lofgren,

we’re looking at you. It’s good to see those hallowed halls actually seem hallowed.

Scott Fitzgerald,

near the end of his life and bruised at thinking his work was forgotten, wrote to his daughter that when he considered, objectively, his gifts and the price he paid to realize them, he thought he saw in his career “some sort of epic grandeur.” That is what we too can see, objectively, when we bother to look at our career as a nation, and a people.

I see all this as an unanticipated side benefit of the impeachment proceedings this week. And it seems to me there’s something new to be gained.

I believe the president is guilty of shaking down the government of Ukraine for personal political gain, that he has rightly been embarrassed for this, and that the fit final punishment with an election coming was censure, not impeachment. But we are where we are, and the proceedings can be enriched if both parties unclench and let this thing broaden out.

The key to deepening things, capturing the essence of the argument and satisfying the majority of the people is three words: Witnesses, witnesses, witnesses. History deserves them; the public wants them, according to polls, and will not be fully served without them.

On this, the parties are at loggerheads, in stalemate. Senate Democrats would like certain witnesses but not others. They think they’ve made their case—why open it to unexpected hazards? You never know what will be said in testimony. Republicans don’t want new witnesses. The House had plenty of them, questioned them, drew up the articles based on their testimony. The Senate is here to weigh them, not develop new evidence. Also there are aspects of executive privilege.

Both parties are thinking of their own needs, which is what parties do. But when you open the door to impeachment, there’s a third party in the room, History. It too has its needs, and they are less selfish than those of the political parties. History wants information. It wants data and testimony. It wants as near as possible to know and understand the story.

It will be surprising if the president doesn’t come around to backing more witnesses. As the Democrats make their case against him, he will begin to seethe: I want more people defending me! I want my guys! He’ll have a conversation with

Mitch McConnell,

and we’ll be off to the races.

And why not? Take the time. Throw everything against the wall, let historians sort it out.

How many witnesses? Four major ones in four days would not be unreasonable.

John Bolton

and Joe Biden? Yes.

Mr. Bolton was

Donald Trump’s

national security adviser from April 2018 to September 2019. He was in the thick of it but apparently apart from it. He spoke of the Ukraine scheme disparagingly, is said to have called it a drug deal. He called

Rudy Giuliani,

the apparent instigator, “a hand grenade who’s going to blow everybody up,” according to the testimony of

Fiona Hill,

the president’s adviser on Russia and Europe.

Mr. Bolton is a central fact witness. The story is incomplete without him, and his testimony could prove crucial. He is respected among conservatives, who know him from Fox News; he was U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. If you want to break through to Trump supporters who think this whole case is a big, ginned-up hoax, get him. He has already said he will testify if called.

As for Mr. Biden, it is fair to ask: What does he have to do with this? He’s not a fact witness. He wasn’t a participant in the scheme; he was its intended victim. Donald Trump apparently thought he was the likely Democratic 2020 nominee. So he muscled Ukraine to embarrass Mr. Biden by publicly announcing an investigating of his son Hunter. Mr. Trump apparently thought then-Vice President Biden had pressed for the firing of a Ukraine prosecutor who he thought was moving against Hunter, who served on the board of a Ukrainian company.

Mr. Trump’s great defense is that he was simply pressing the new government of Ukraine to be harder on corruption in general than it had been in the past. Is it unfair to ask Mr. Biden to testify on his approach to and actions on Ukrainian corruption when he was vice president? Is it unfair to ask how he viewed his son’s job with the company of a nation on which the senior Mr. Biden held portfolio? No. And it would satisfy half the country: “Good, we’re finally talking about the swamp and its corruptions.”

Mr. Biden was a U.S. senator for 36 years. He knows that chamber, his friends are there. He’s a public figure of long standing. It would not be unduly burdensome or overwhelming for him to be invited into that arena to expand the public record.

It would be high-risk, high-reward. If Mr. Biden bobbles it when he’s questioned about Ukraine, its country’s corruption and his son, it could ruin his presidential candidacy. On the other hand if he brings it to Mr. Trump, if he makes the case he has been the object of calumnies and speaks in defense of the career public servants the president abused, such as Ambassador

Marie Yovanovitch,

who lost her job in the Ukraine scheme—well, that could make Joe Biden president.

This would be pretty exciting.

Hunter Biden

shouldn’t be hauled in. He has never sought public office and is portrayed in the press as in perpetual personal crisis. Compelling him to testify would be not thoroughness but sadism.

The Democrats should want—History would want—the testimony of

Mick Mulvaney,

the president’s acting chief of staff, also in the center of things during the Ukraine scheme. He isn’t known to have attempted to thwart the president’s actions. Did he? If not, why not?

In return for Mr. Mulvaney, Republicans should want Rudy Giuliani. Many of Mr. Trump’s supporters hope for a colorful, even intemperate defense of the president. Rudy’s their man. If Ukraine was a drug deal, it looks as if he ran the cartel. Get him in and under oath. First question: What were you doing?

Then end this. The 67 votes needed to convict won’t materialize. Scrub this saga as thoroughly as possible and then leave it to history, which will find in it valuable material as to the ways and mores of early 21st-century American politics.

Wonder Land: When Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff and the other House impeachment managers invoke the Founding Fathers, one needs to look closer at their idea of democracy. Images: Getty Images Composite: Mark Kelly

Copyright ©2019 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8



Source link

About the Author:

Leave a Reply