“I’m with the Bush-Cheney team, and I’m here to stop the count.”

Those words were bellowed by John Bolton in a Tallahassee library in December 2000, when he was part of a team of Republican lawyers trying to stop the Florida recount of votes cast in the presidential race between George W. Bush and Al Gore. Until now, it was the most famous utterance President Trump’s former national security adviser had ever made. That’s about to change with the looming publication of his book, due out in March, about serving in the Trump administration. It’s even vaguely possible Bolton could make an appearance in Trump’s impeachment trial this week.

Still, it’s worth considering the irony of Bolton’s earlier words. The Bush-Gore Florida recount wasn’t the beginning of our divided times, but it was a major inflection point. It pushed the internal combustion engine of partisanship into a higher gear, and we’ve never really revved back down. Now, Bolton is in the strange position of not fitting comfortably on either side of the partisan divide.

The gist of Bolton’s story is that the president’s story is not true. According to an account of the book’s contents reported in the New York Times, Bolton heard Trump say he was withholding aid to the Ukrainians pending an investigation into Biden and other Democrats. (One wonders who these other Democrats were.)

The Times story says the book also contradicts statements about who knew what and when inside the administration, no doubt causing heartburn for acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, Attorney General William Barr, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, off-book fixer Rudy Giuliani and, of course, all of the GOP senators determined to avoid hearing from witnesses in the impeachment trial.

The response from Trump World is predictable. Bolton is a disgruntled liar, bitter over being fired and desperate to sell books. I have no doubt Bolton, a former colleague of mine at the American Enterprise Institute, is disgruntled. I’m also sure he very much wants to sell books. But I don’t buy the lying part.

Bolton may be many of the things his detractors claim, but he’s also an incredibly adept lawyer and bureaucratic infighter. On different occasions when National Security Council staffers Fiona Hill and Tim Morrison were dismayed by what the president was up to with Ukraine, Bolton’s advice was to “tell the lawyers” (in Morrison’s words). When Hill told Bolton that she’d heard Gordon Sondland — Trump’s EU ambassador and administration point person on the Ukrainian scheme — tell the Ukrainians that he and Mulvaney would arrange a White House meeting in exchange for an investigation of Biden, Bolton replied, “You go and tell [NSC counsel John Eisenberg] that I am not part of whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up on this, and you go and tell him what you’ve heard and what I’ve said.”

The notion that Bolton, a legendary note-taker, would volunteer to testify (if subpoenaed) only to perjure himself is absurd. That he would make false allegations in a book without contemporaneous corroboration seems far-fetched as well. There’s only one way to know, though: Have Bolton tell his version under oath.

As of this writing, the ink on the official “Destroy Bolton” narrative hasn’t dried yet, but an early contender is the charge that this is all just a replay of the tactics Democrats used to try to derail Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination. Promoting his new podcast, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas tweeted, “Last week we had Lev Parnas on Maddow & ‘secret tapes’; this week, the ‘Bolton revelations.’ It’s the same approach Dems & media followed during the Kavanaugh hearing.”

Except it’s not at all. The only thing similar about the two controversies is that new allegations kept inconveniencing politicians who wanted to move on. By that standard, nearly every unfolding Washington scandal is like the Kavanaugh hearings.

Putting aside the hilarity of John “Stop the Count” Bolton being a willing pawn of the Democrats, there were no recorded telephone calls confirming elements of the allegations against Kavanaugh. None of the Kavanaugh accusations had the sort of corroboration and material evidence already in the public record in the impeachment case. And Trump’s former national security adviser isn’t relying on a decades-old unverifiable recollection, but on his memory of events from a few months ago.

The biggest difference between how the Senate handled the Kavanaugh smear campaign and how it’s handling the impeachment case is this: With Kavanaugh, Senate Republicans bent over backward to hear from witnesses; with Trump, they’ve gone into a defensive crouch to avoid it. And that may not be enough any longer.

Monday, February 17, 2020
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IN THE SEVEN presidential elections since 1992, the Republican presidential nominee has won the popular vote exactly once. The lone GOP candidate to receive a majority of the national vote was George W. Bush in 2004. Bush’s election-day victory over Democrat John Kerry, who had, in most obse…

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MATT SCHLAPP, chairman of the American Conservative (cough) Union, which hosts the annual CPAC conference, tweeted that he was disinviting Mitt Romney from the confab this year because he “could not guarantee his physical safety” after the senator voted to convict Donald Trump in the impeach…

Saturday, February 15, 2020
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FROM the day he entered the race, Joe Biden was the great hope of the Democratic establishment to spare them from the horrifying prospect of a 2020 race between The Donald and Bernie Sanders.

Friday, February 14, 2020
Thursday, February 13, 2020
Wednesday, February 12, 2020
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“SHOUT OUT, do not hold back! Lift up your voice like a trumpet!” said the prophet Isaiah, which we read in church on Sunday, but nobody shouted. We are flatlanders, brought up to be still and behave ourselves and listen to instructions, but if the instruction is to shout out and raise your …

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

LAST MONDAY’S Iowa caucuses were an epic failure for Democrats. Thanks to a star-crossed ballot-tabulation program written by alumni of the Obama and Hillary Clinton campaigns, final results were still unavailable as of early Thursday morning. The party that is desperate to control every Ame…

It’s comforting, no doubt, to believe that Donald Trump has survived the impeachment trial because he possesses a tighter hold on his party than did Barack Obama or George W. Bush or any other contemporary president. In truth, Trump, often because of his own actions, has engendered less loya…

During his floor speech explaining his vote to convict Donald Trump, Mitt Romney was overcome by emotion and paused to compose himself. The intense moment came when he spoke of his devotion to God, saying: "I am profoundly religious. My faith is at the heart of who I am." Lump in throat. Lon…

Sunday, February 09, 2020

JUST AS he has done throughout his business career and personal life, Donald Trump bullied his way through being only the third President in history to be impeached. He was not removed from office by the Senate — not because he was found “not guilty”, but because he threatened, stonewalled a…

Saturday, February 08, 2020
Friday, February 07, 2020

Jonah Goldberg is editor-in-chief of The Dispatch and the host of The Remnant podcast. His Twitter handle is @JonahDispatch.