Tennessee Republican Senator Lamar Alexander was considered a pivotal vote in the effort to allow witnesses and new evidence in the Donald Trump impeachment trial on Friday. But before he announced that he would vote against bringing in witnesses, effectively ending the impeachment effort against Trump, Alexander was spotted reading a book about the history of presidential impeachments co-authored by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Jon Meacham, according to a New Yorker Magazine account.
But shortly after the vote, Meacham made clear that his view on Trump’s impeachment was significantly different than Alexander’s. In an interview with MSNBC’s Brian Williams on Friday night, Meacham said that the vote against allowing evidence at the trial meant that the Senate had made Trump “functionally a monarch,” as seen in the video excerpt seen below on this page.
“He’s functionally the most politically powerful president in American history,” Meachan told Williams, adding that the power now in Trump’s hands as a result of the Senate decision is “something that we haven’t fully grappled with.”
The Senate cast its vote, with all but two Republicans — Utah’s Mitt Romney and Maine’s Susan Collins — opposing new witnesses, just hours after explosive new evidence emerged from an upcoming book by Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton. According to The New York Times, in his book, Bolton reports that Trump personally told him that military aid to Ukraine was being withheld until that country staged an investigation of Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden — the allegation at the heart of the impeachment articles.
But while all 45 Democratic senators, and two Independents, voted in favor of allowing the new witnesses, Republicans simply ignored the apparent Bolton evidence, refusing to allow his testimony in the trial.
New evidence continued to surface even after the Senate vote. Later on Friday night, the Trump administration filed court documents admitting that it had been concealing 24 internal emails that detailed Trump’s role in holding back the aid to Ukraine.
Trump’s refusal to release the aid, without involving or informing Congress, was a violation of federal law, the Government Accountability Office ruled earlier in January.
With Republicans expected to move for acquittal on the impeachment articles in a vote scheduled for Wednesday, their dismissal of Trump’s alleged actions come “in spite of the facts,” Meacham told Williams in the Friday night interview.
Meacham had warned in December that the Republican Party had become “monarchist,” treating Trump as if he is their king, rather than simply a chief executive whose powers are supposed to be answerable to, and constrained by, Congress and the courts.