Bolton should testify, but that won't change the verdict — here's what could

John BoltonJohn BoltonTrump offered North Korea's Kim a ride home on Air Force One: report Key impeachment figure Pence sticks to sidelines Bolton lawyer: Trump impeachment trial is constitutional MORE should testify in the impeachment trial to what his leaked manuscript revealed: Trump told him he wanted military aid to the Ukraine to be conditioned on President Zelensky announcing an investigation of the Bidens.

But Bolton’s testimony won't change Senate Republicans’ minds about removing Trump. The Democrats already have the facts, truth and precedent on their side — but those don’t matter.

What could change the Republicans’ minds is eroding enough of Trump’s base to make the Senate Republicans less dependent on his support to get elected. Only then will they do “impartial justice” and vote their conscience.


More witnesses and evidence regarding Trump’s Ukraine transgression and obstruction of Congress — even if Republicans permitted them in the trial — won’t do the trick. Neither will the Democrats’ description of what that evidence would reveal, no matter how compelling. Republican voters already know all about Trump’s behavior regarding the Ukraine and obstruction, and 89 percent of them still approve of the job he’s doing.

Airing the facts of Trump’s corrupt tailoring of foreign policy for personal financial gain beyond Ukraine might put a dent in that number.

It would show that he wasn’t concerned with corruption or Hunter Biden’s board seat when he withheld nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine. More importantly, it would be a stark reminder to Trump supporters of how corrupt their president is, which might peel off some of their support, and free enough Senate Republicans to base their verdict on the facts.

Senate Republicans won’t admit such evidence. But the Democrats could still get it in front of America by describing what it would reveal. There’s plenty to describe:

For example, China loaned $500 million to a theme park in which Trump is a partner. It awarded Ivanka a dozen trademarks in apparent exchange for Trump defying bipartisan objections and lifting the ban on U.S. sales to Chinese telecom company ZTE, which sold U.S. technology to Iran and North Korea.


The Democrats should remind Trump supporters that he vetoed bipartisan resolutions blocking arms sales to Saudi Arabia, and sold $8.1 billion of arms to the Saudis, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan, boasting, "Saudi Arabia, I get along with all of them. They buy apartments from me. They spend $40 million, $50 million … I like them very much.”

Democrats should describe Trump’s multiple violations of the Constitution’s emoluments clause which prohibits the president from accepting anything of value “without the Consent of the Congress.” House Democrats launched investigations into Trump’s multiple acceptances of value from foreign governments, but the Senate took no action — so Congress neither consented nor tried to stop him.

Trump’s behavior demonstrates how comfortable he is with corruption. His emoluments violations are so egregious, they should convert enough Trump voters to allow some Senate Republicans to shift their stance. Was he really troubled by Hunter Biden’s board seat or corruption in the Ukraine? Does the phrase “give me a break” come to mind?

Trump is the only U.S. President to retain interests in his businesses — 500 of them — including foreign interests. One report indicates Trump has more than 1,400 conflicts of interest. Walter ShaubWalter Michael ShaubEthics experts ask Senate to investigate Graham's probe of mail-in voting Interior 'propaganda' video and tweets may violate ethics laws, experts say Louisiana House candidate fundraises off opponent's tweet about wife's 'premonition' dream MORE resigned as director of the Office of Government Ethics over Trump’s failure to resolve them. Democrats should demand he be called as a witness and preview what he would say.

Trump’s withdrawal from Syria is another example of foreign policy designed for Trump’s personal financial gain. He has business ties with Turkey, including Trump Towers in Istanbul and a Turkish family’s $400 million investment in them. Although Trump sent 900 troops back in to fight ISIS and protect Syrian oilfields, he ordered U.S. troops fighting alongside the Kurds to withdraw, getting them out of the way of Turkey’s purge, which he apparently condoned in a call with President Erdoğan.


I believe the withdrawal from Syria was treasonous — because it handed American influence in the Middle East to Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinFor better or worse: Which way will US-Saudi relations go under Biden? How to rethink Russia sanctions Tucker Carlson bashes CNN, claims it's 'more destructive' than QAnon MORE and prompted Erdoğan to partner with Russia in driving out the Kurds. That cozy partnership raises concern that Turkey’s military won’t continue to deter Russian aggression against NATO members on its border.

Senate Republicans shrugging at Trump’s withdrawal from Syria demonstrates the futility of waiting for them to vote their conscience. They’ve tolerated his worst behavior, much of it worthy of removal from office. They’ll continue to give Trump a pass as long as his approval rating among Republican voters remains high.

The Republicans wouldn’t override Trump’s veto of Congress’s bipartisan resolution blocking the arms sale to Saudi Arabia. Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump at CPAC foments 2022 GOP primary wars Hawley gets boisterous ovation at CPAC for Electoral College objection   Why Congress must invoke the 14th Amendment now MORE gave lip service, criticizing Trump’s withdrawal from Syria, but blocked a Senate resolution to bar Trump from another irrational military deployment in Iran. What if Trump becomes unhinged while watching the impeachment trial? Given his threat to rain down “fire and fury” on North Korea, would bombing the country be so farfetched?

Senate Republicans won’t convict Trump or allow new evidence in the impeachment trial — because they need his voters to win their elections.

Until that changes, they’ll continue to defy facts, truth and precedent.

Neil Baron advised the SEC and congressional staff on rating agency reform. He represented Standard & Poor’s from 1968 to 1989, was vice chairman and general counsel of Fitch Ratings from 1989 to 1998. He also served on the board of Assured Guaranty for a decade.