Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Pressure Gauge: What a Weird Republican Impeachment Argument


The latest Republican argument against impeachment, summarized (h/t Steve Trinward):

If the Ukrainian government didn't feel "pressured" to investigate Crowdstrike and/or the Bidens in return for some Javelin missiles and/or a White House promotional event, then by definition there wasn't any "bribery" or "quid pro quo" stuff involved.

If I go to the store, hold out a dollar, and ask for a loaf of bread in return, I'm only trying to get a loaf of bread out of the deal if I stand next to the store window holding a hammer, right?

From the White House memorandum on (not "transcript of") the Trump-Zelensky call:

Zelensky: I would also like to thank you for your great support in the area of defense. We are ready to continue to cooperate for the next steps specifically we are almost ready to buy more Javelins from the United States for defense purposes.

Trump: I would like you to do us a favor though ...

In what universe does that not come across as a request for an exchange of some kind?

I can understand Republicans arguing "no pressure" as evidence that the offer was not extortion (whether there really wasn't any "pressure" is a different question).

I can also see Republicans arguing that, "pressure" or not, Trump was trying to get additional concessions out of an aid deal out of genuine concern for the interests of the United States rather than for his own personal/political benefit, and that he was therefore neither offering nor soliciting a bribe (whether anyone would believe that is, again, a different question).

But exchanges of all kinds, including bribes and non-bribe "quid pro quo" agreements, occur without "pressure" all the time.

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