A midnight court filing on Friday night revealed that the White House is refusing to release at least two dozen emails directly related to Donald Trump’s withholding of military assistance from Ukraine. The filing, authored by an attorney from the Office of Management and Budget, described the until now hidden documents as communications by Trump or his immediate advisers “regarding Presidential decision-making about the scope, duration, and purpose of the hold on military assistance to Ukraine.”
In other words, the idea that Trump withheld military assistance to Ukraine because of concerns over corruption, or the need for more “burden sharing” — as Trump’s defense team has stated throughout hearings in the House and the trial in the Senate — could be directly revealed by an examination of these documents. Which they will not share.
As CNN reports, the Department of Justice withheld the existence of these emails until just hours after the Senate had made it’s vote to not subpoena any further witnesses or documents in Trump’s impeachment trial. This appears to be another staggering example of how Trump has used the full power of the executive branch to paper over his actions, block access to key information, and simply prevent the release of the truth.
The argument from the DOJ is that the collection of emails are privileged because they include “discussions regarding Presidential decision-making.” Which is, of course, exactly the thing that makes them valuable. And exactly the kind of claim that shows how ridiculous it is to suggest that executive privilege can be broadly applied in an impeachment trial.
These documents are directly on the subject of Trump’s impeachment. They obviously speak exactly the the motivation behind Trump’s action — something that Trump’s defense team, including Ukraine plot participant Pat Cipollone have been insisting can not be known. They are collected, available … and hidden for no purpose other than to preserve the lies that have been told to disguise Trump’s actual reasoning.
The nature of these documents, and the timing of their release, speaks more than ever to the point that the entire executive branch is enlisted in support of Trump’s cover-up. Making it impossible to have a fair trial unless the Senate will consider that cover-up worthy of impeachment.