DOJ Confirms Withholding Ukraine Emails Hours After Senate Vote

The Republican party demonstrated its contempt for the Constitution and American people on Friday when it voted 51 to 49 to disallow witnesses to testify in Donald Trump’s impeachment trial.

This means any slim hope of making Trump the first president to be removed from office via impeachment is effectively dashed.

The Republican cover-up is putting the nation on the path to dictatorship.

Late last week, it took another more perfidious turn.

Mere hours after the Senate’s vote, a court filing confirmed the Justice Department (DOJ) is withholding two dozen emails pertaining to Trump’s role in freezing military aid to Ukraine.

The filing comes in response to a Center for Public Integrity lawsuit seeking to release the unredacted emails after receiving aggressively redacted ones in December.

Citing “presidential privilege,” Heather Walsh, a White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) lawyer, told the court the emails “reflect communications by either the President, the Vice President, or the President’s immediate advisers regarding Presidential decision-making about the scope, duration, and purpose of the hold on military assistance to Ukraine.”

By withholding Ukraine assistance, the OMB broke the law, according to the non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO).

According to CNN:

“The filing, released near midnight Friday, marks the first official acknowledgment from the Trump administration that emails about the President’s thinking related to the aid exist, and that he was directly involved in asking about and deciding on the aid as early as June. The administration is still blocking those emails from the public and has successfully kept them from Congress.

This is, by definition, a cover up.

Every previous impeachment proceeding, from president to judge, included witnesses.

Image credit: Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW)

After Friday’s Senate vote, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer commented:

“America will remember this day—a day when the United States Senate did not live up to its responsibilities, turned away from truth and instead went along with a sham trial.”

He added:

“Make no mistake, the full truth will eventually come out and Republicans will have to answer for why they were so determined to enable the president to hide it.”

The Senate is expected to vote for acquittal Wednesday.

Once that happens, we are on a slippery slope to autocracy.

Donald Trump will be out of office one day–hopefully this time next year.

But the message Republican senators have sent to us is that the president is above the law.

If acquitted, Trump will have accomplished the very thing the Constitution‘s framers viewing with “perfect horror”–foreign influence in our electoral process.

That’s why they created impeachment.

In his 1797 farewell address, George Washington urged Americans “to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government.”

Writing to Thomas Jefferson in 1787 about Jefferson’s apprehension about “foreign Interference, Intrigue Influence,” John Adams stated, “As often as Elections happen, the danger of foreign Influence recurs.”

Thomas Jefferson also understood a republic cannot function if its chief executive abuses his office and the public trust vis-a-vis soliciting political assistance from foreign entities.

Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist 68:

“These most deadly adversaries of republican government might naturally have been expected to make their approaches from more than one quarter, but chiefly from the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils. How could they better gratify this, than by raising a creature of their own to the chief magistry of the Union?”

James Madison noted if there wasn’t another way to remove a president other than election, “[H]e might pervert his administration into a scheme of [embezzlement] or oppression. He might betray his trust to foreign powers.”

Federal Election Commission (FEC) chairwoman, Ellen Weintraub, made it abundantly clear when she tweeted last year:

Donald Trump must not be re-elected.

As progressive radio talk show host and author Thom Hartmann theorized, if he is “we may slide into straight fascism.”

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Ted Millar is writer and teacher. His work has been featured in myriad literary journals, including Better Than Starbucks, The Broke Bohemian, Straight Forward Poetry, Caesura, Circle Show, Cactus Heart, Third Wednesday, and The Voices Project. He is also a contributor to The Left Place blog on Substack, and Medium.