In political scandals, the actual deed never gets anyone in real trouble. It’s the coverup that matters. Donald Trump knows this, which is why he admits to everything. “Yes, I did try to pressure the Ukrainian president. So what? It was the right thing to do.”
Whether or not you agree that it was the right thing to do, a coverup is not part of the narrative. Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer are trying to change that. Their strategy is to insist that the White House is trying to hide something by not allowing any witnesses at the Senate impeachment trial.
So far, Trump and Mitch McConnell seem to be in full control. But if the conversation changes from whether Trump did anything wrong to whether Trump was trying to cover something up they could find themselves behind an eight ball.
Update: January 12, 2020: Pelosi works on changing the narrative on ABC News’ “This Week” today: “Dismissing is a coverup. Dismissing is a coverup.”
Here’s a scenario. Donald Trump stonewalls on talking to special counsel Robert Mueller. He decides he has nothing to gain by answering his questions. Mueller cannot subpoena the President, so we are done.
Or are we?
Assuming the Dems take power in the House (not a safe assumption at all), a number of House committees will start investigating Trump for this and that. He will stonewall all of them. And there the matter will end.
Or will it?
Suppose the House votes to impeach Trump, knowing that they have no hope of winning a conviction in the Senate. But the reason for impeaching him is not to kick him out of office. It is to force a trial in the Senate where the President will have to testify under oath. In other words, the House tells Mueller, “Give us your questions – we’ll get the answers for you”.
Mitch McConnell will do everything he can to delay a trial. Brett Kavanaugh will likely help him. But you have to admin it would be a pretty sneaky way for the Dems to get Mueller the information he needs to build his case(s).