Trump is flipping the tables on his accusers in impeachment
The impeachment trial of Donald Trump had been going pretty well for the president as his lawyers ripped holes in the Democrats' case in a mercifully short session on Saturday. Trump's poll numbers have risen steadily since the impeachment process began in October and a new poll over the weekend delivered his best ever numbers.
Nine months out from the election with a booming economy and voters tuning out of the impeachment saga in droves, he is ahead or tied with all his Democratic rivals.
But then on Sunday night, the eve of his lawyers' coup de grace, came another strategic blow in the New York Times.
This time it was a "bombshell" leak from a tell-all book by ultra-hawk John Bolton, Trump's short-lived former National Security Adviser, who left the White House on bad terms four months ago. He said he quit, Trump said he fired him. He wants to start wars, Trump doesn't.
The front-page story quoted anonymous sources paraphrasing excerpts of an upcoming book by Bolton claiming Trump told him he wanted to freeze military aid to Ukraine until the new government launched a corruption investigation into the Biden family.
This was touted by Democrats as the "smoking gun" which finally proves a "quid pro quo" to damage Trump's political rival.
But mere hours after the leak, lo and behold, Bolton's book went on pre-sale on Amazon, casting doubt on his motives for undermining US foreign policy.
He needs the sales, after receiving a reported US $3 million advance for the book, due out in March, which features an oval (office) outline on the cover, and is titled The Room Where It Happened, an apparent reference to a song about a "quid pro quo" from the musical Hamilton.
Bolton hasn't disputed the Times' story, although he issued a joint statement with his publisher and agent yesterday saying there was "absolutely no co-ordination with the New York Times or anyone else regarding the appearance of information about his book."
No one was buying it, because what's he doing publishing a tell-all in the middle of an impeachment trial right before an election, anyway?
Bolton loves the publicity, however, judging by the broad grin under his walrus moustache when he was spotted leaving his house yesterday morning and walking all the way around to the far side of his chauffeur-driven car to allow the cameras ample time to film him getting into the back seat.
Trump immediately denied the allegations. "I NEVER told John Bolton that the aid to Ukraine was tied to investigations into Democrats, including the Bidens," he tweeted. "In fact, he never complained about this at the time of his very public termination. If John Bolton said this, it was only to sell a book."
Like disgraced FBI chief Jim Comey, Bolton is a self-aggrandising former insider out for revenge to salve a bruised ego. He even shares an agent with Comey and another disgruntled former staffer "Anonymous".
The immediate effect of the leak was that squishy 'never Trump' Republican senators such as Mitt Romney and Susan Collins declared they were more likely to vote to allow the Democrats to call Bolton and other administration officials as witnesses in the Senate trial.
So instead of finishing at the end of this week with an acquittal of the president, the trial could stretch out for weeks, overshadowing the Democratic presidential candidate contests in Iowa next week and later in New Hampshire.
But it also opens the way for Republicans to call their own witnesses, beginning with Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
Trump allies, like his former advisor Steve Bannon, who is airing a daily podcast on the impeachment proceedings, think a longer trial will be good for the president.
"There's no need to get out of here quickly … The more time you've got, the more [the Democrats] have to expose themselves, the worse they look," Bannon says.
Sure enough, Hunter Biden featured heavily in the president's lawyers' defence yesterday, drawing attention to the ugly truth of this impeachment.
When Joe Biden was Obama's vice president, America exported its own brand of kleptocracy to Ukraine.
What other explanation is there for the fact that troubled drug addict Hunter was paid more than US$84,000 a month by corrupt Ukrainian energy company Burisma to sit on its board for five years, despite having no credentials?
Hunter told us why in a TV interview last year. Because his last name is Biden: "I don't think there's a lot of things that would have happened in my life if my last name wasn't Biden".
Why did the Biden name open doors in Ukraine? Because Hunter's dad was vice-president, openly boasting of the power he had to switch off a billion dollars in aid to that struggling country.
All day on Tuesday, the president's lawyers laid out in forensic detail the impropriety of the Biden business dealings in Ukraine.
By the time they finished, they had flipped the case on its head. It is clear the person on trial should not be the President whose job it is as chief law officer to investigate American corruption wherever it is alleged.
Trump lives to fight another day.