Jen’s Bolton Challenge

Rubin throws down.

John Bolton, it’s now or never
By Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post
Jan. 30, 2020

Dear John Bolton:

Before you were national security adviser, before you represented the United States at the United Nations, you were a lawyer — a pretty good one, as I understand. As a member of the bar, you must have been pained and shaken to hear President Trump’s attorney Alan Dershowitz argue for the proposition that anything a president thinks he needs to do to get reelected — bribe or extort a foreign country, even — cannot be impeachable. This defies and defiles our constitutional system, one in which even the president is not above the law. It’s a proposition that would have boiled your blood had President Bill Clinton or President Barack Obama advanced it.

And yet here we are. The president asserts that he is king, and the spineless Republicans (who smear and insult you and mouth Russian propaganda) are too cowardly to oppose him. Meanwhile, your First Amendment rights to publish your account are being trampled on by a vague, overly broad and baseless assertion that your manuscript contains “Top Secret” materials. (And yet the president, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and others have spoken to the contents of the same conversations you apparently will describe, thereby declassifying whatever they tried to classify.)

We have the perfect formula for tyranny: The executive claims unlimited power; his critics are muzzled. I do not think you spent decades in public life to allow this to play out before your eyes. What’s more, as you have surely realized in serving in this administration filled with toadies and careerists, you will, by acquiescing to White House demands, ensconce in power a president emotionally, temperamentally and intellectually unfit to serve, one who will now be convinced that he operates above and beyond any restraint on his power.

The moral and constitutional instincts that drove you to condemn the “drug deal” being cooked by Trump’s aides and to repeatedly tell your former employees to report their concerns to White House attorneys should now compel you to throw sand in the gears of a totalitarian-minded president. Your attorney certainly has run through some options for you, but let’s review them.

First, you could hold a news conference Thursday or agree to an interview, perhaps with Chris Wallace so that his Fox News audience would have a front-row seat. (A disclosure: I am a contributor to MSNBC.) You can explain without revealing anything remotely classified that Trump tied aid to opening bogus investigations into the Bidens; that Trump never pursued burden-sharing or anti-corruption efforts more generally before the scandal broke; and that Trump knew that the conspiracy theories justifying such bogus investigations were being advanced by Russian-connected stooges. Let the public know; do not allow the Senate to ignore damning evidence.

Second, you could call up the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees and ask to appear immediately in an open hearing. You can then, under oath, lay out what you know.

Third, you can do nothing, meekly accepting prior restraint on your free speech and remaining silent so that the Senate can escape confronting what it knows would be damning evidence of the president’s impeachable conduct. You can watch the party to which you belonged your entire adult life incinerate the constitutional system of checks and balances, separation of powers and limited government. You can become a silent accomplice in this assault on democracy.

Finally, you have gotten a taste of the heavy-handed intimidation techniques the president and his sycophantic enablers use to beat down critics. If someone as financially and professional secure as you capitulates, imagine how easy it will be for the Trumpists to crush dissent from ordinary Americans. Whether intended or not, you’ve burned your bridges with the Trumpian right and to the right-wing media that has on cue demonized you. Welcome to the “other side.” Whatever sense of disappointment and alienation you must feel from your former friends and colleagues, I can assure you it is temporary. You can now relish in the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to display true courage and patriotism, to go down in history with others who interposed themselves between wanna-be dictators and absolute power. But first, you have to do the right thing.

I spent a long time last night thinking about what needs to be in my Bugout Bag and family evacuation plans.

Update: Bolton should talk, even if it’s on Hannity.

(h/t NewsHound Ellen @ Crooks & Liars)