The impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump have rested on the scandal of his attempt to bribe Ukraine to investigate Democrats in general and the Bidens in particular. Trump attempted to use delayed military aid for the country as leverage in that bribe, and although the president has insisted that the delay was completely clean, his administration is not acting like that’s true — at all. The Center for Public Integrity has revealed that in document dumps from the Trump admin in an ongoing court case that they’ve brought, the president’s team has redacted large, significant portions covering what administration officials actually said to each other about the aid hold-up.
Issues like this cover-up operation disguised in compliance with document demands are at the core of Democrats’ ongoing insistence on fairness in a Senate trial following the House’s recent formal impeachment of Trump.
Trump and his closest allies have claimed that the aid hold-up was carried out because of concern about supposedly ongoing corruption in Ukraine, but that was not a suddenly new consideration, and Congress had already approved the aid. The Daily Beast notes that the decades-old Impoundment Control Act dictates that a “president cannot simply ignore Congress’s direction, no matter how inconvenient or unappealing that instruction might be” — and yet, that’s exactly what the president did.
Key figures at the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) — which enacted the president’s demanded Ukraine aid delay in July in the weeks before Trump spoke with Ukraine’s president and directly demanded that he investigate Democrats — either explicitly sought to keep information from getting out about the delay or revealed that they themselves had been kept out of the loop. OMB’s career official Mark Sandy told Congress that he knew of at least two resignations that he understood to be connected to frustration over the situation.
Office political appointee Michael Duffey — who Democrats want to make finally abide by a Congressional subpoena for his testimony at the Senate trial for Trump — commented in July to a counterpart at the Defense Department:
‘Given the sensitive nature of the request, I appreciate your keeping that information closely held to those who need to know to execute the direction.’
Months later, on September 11 — the day that the delay was finally stopped, which happened after a whistleblower complaint emerged that documented the plot — OMB official Edna T. Falk Curtain commented:
‘I still have no insight on the rationale for the hold.’
None of these details exactly seem like the marks of an administration with nothing to hide! The Center for Public Integrity has filed an appeal in their court quest for at least less redacted versions of the documents in question, but that’s apparently unlikely to be resolved before March.
The Senate trial following the House’s impeachment of Trump could actually also be delayed. Led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), House Democrats have indicated that they’re waiting to transmit their case to the Senate until they can examine Senate trial parameters for fairness, or the lack thereof. Senate Republican leaders like Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham (S.C.) have explicitly said, in their words, that they will not be “impartial jurors.”