The Washington Post reports that many Senate Republicans are prepared to admit that Trump made a quid pro quo threat to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to withhold aid if he didn’t reopen an investigation that could harm the man he saw then as his primary opponent in 2020, Joe Biden. But they would also argue that this act was neither a crime nor impeachable.
If they were honest and rational, they would have stopped pretending there was no quid pro quo a couple weeks ago when the evidence started to become undeniable. But they are neither of those things, which explains their absolutely absurd argument for why this quid pro quo is not criminal or impeachable:
A growing number of Senate Republicans are ready to acknowledge that President Trump used U.S. military aid as leverage to force Ukraine to investigate former vice president Joe Biden and his family as the president repeatedly denies a quid pro quo.
In this shift in strategy to defend Trump, these Republicans are insisting that the president’s action was not illegal and does not rise to the level of an impeachable offense as the Democratic-led House moves forward with the open phase of its probe.
But the shift among Senate Republicans could complicate the message coming from Trump as he furiously fights the claim that he had withheld U.S. aid from Ukraine to pressure it to dig up dirt on a political rival, even as an increasing number of Republicans wonder how long they can continue to argue that no quid pro quo was at play in the matter.
The pivot was the main topic during a private Senate GOP lunch on Wednesday, according to multiple people familiar with the session who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the meeting. Sen. John Neely Kennedy (R-La.) argued that there may have been a quid pro quo but said that the U.S. government often attaches conditions to foreign aid and that nothing was amiss in Trump’s doing so in the case of aid to Ukraine, these individuals said.
nside the lunch, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), who ran against Trump in 2016, said a quid pro quo is not illegal unless there is “corrupt intent” and echoed Kennedy’s argument that such conditions are a tool of foreign policy.
“To me, this entire issue is gonna come down to, why did the president ask for an investigation,” Kennedy, who worked as a lawyer, said in an interview. “To me, it all turns on intent, motive. … Did the president have a culpable state of mind? … Based on the evidence that I see, that I’ve been allowed to see, the president does not have a culpable state of mind.”
Yeah, it was clear corruption but he didn’t have a corrupt intent so it’s all cool. Good luck finding any evidence for that conclusion. Can they read minds? Of course not. The act itself is the corruption, not the intent. And yes, we do attach conditions to aid packages all the time, but not conditions that are intended solely to help Trump get reelected and damage his political opponents. That is not a legitimate condition, it’s clear evidence of corruption and political self-dealing.