October 29, 2019

Bribery

It’s time to call the Ukraine scandal what it is.

by Chris Thomas

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Image via Wikimedia Commons

Now that the House Democrats are moving towards an official impeachment vote, President Trump’s obsequious defenders are going to have to come up with a new defense for the indefensible.

Thus far, Republican objections have been procedural: objecting to the closed door nature of the proceedings or to the inquiry’s unwillingness to extend subpoena privileges to the Republican minority. Of course, Democrats are merely following the procedures Republicans laid out for the Benghazi hearings which were apparently fair when they were targeting Hillary Clinton.

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Justice for me, but not for thee.

But now that the House is moving to formalize the inquiry with a floor vote, Republicans will need to shift the goal posts yet again. This time, they’ll be arguing that the impeachment inquiry is invalid because there was no wrong doing. Quid pro quo, they’ll argue, is just how foreign policy is conducted.

But of course, it’s not.

That’s because all of this talk of “quid pro quo” for foreign aid to Ukraine is just a roundabout way of avoiding using a much stronger word for Mr. Trump’s actions: bribery.

Perspective | 'Bribery' is right there in the Constitution. Trump could be impeached for that.

If a U.S. border guard demanded a crisp $100 note in your passport in order to let you back into the county he would be demanding a bribe. When the President demands a personal political favor from another country in exchange for releasing foreign aid to that country it’s no different. An official who needs his palms greased to do his job is demanding bribes.

Now, Republicans may argue that “quid pro quo” doesn’t rise to the level of an impeachable offense, but they can’t argue bribery. Bribery is right there in in Constitution.

The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors. — Article II, Section 4

So sit back and watch those goal posts move. Just know that it doesn’t make a bit of difference. The President of the United States demanded a bribe from the President of Ukraine. It could not possibly be any more clear cut than that.

What Can I Do?

Impeachment is about political will and public perception. As Republicans learned in the late 1990s, impeaching a President can backfire if it looks like more of a partisan exercise than a solemn obligation. Democrats will back this move only so long as the public views Trump as more of a perpetrator than a victim. Likewise, Republicans will continue to oppose impeachment (especially in the Senate) unless they see their constituents turning against Trump.

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