“There was no quid pro quo” is the current defense parroted by Republicans from sea to shining sea in response to accusations of criminal activity by the White House. You can hear from the lips of both Iowa senators as they duck and dodge reference to the Ukrainian call that started the impeachment inquiry.
Kerry Eleveld at dailykos.com reports that our own Chuck Grassley seems to think if it is done in public it is ok. Senator Kevin Cramer of North Dakota says what difference does it make if the victim doesn’t complain? This is the kind of Alfred E. Neuman “What Me Worry?” kind of reasoning that passes for thinking on the Republican side of the aisle these days:
“Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa: “What difference does it make? This is all out in the public, with the [summary] the president put out two or three months ago. It doesn’t make any difference what anybody else said.” You tell ’em, Grassley—who cares if the president sold out U.S. national security for a personal political favor.
Sen. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota: ”Neither the president of Ukraine or the president of the United States says there’s a quid pro quo or that there was pressure applied. Does everybody else’s opinion matter if the supposed victim wasn’t victimized?” Exactly, President Zelensky surely felt free to be honest about being pressured after Trump previously withheld $400 million in lifesaving aid from Ukraine on a whim.”
So if we set thinking like that as the new standard for criminal activity it would certainly make it much harder to get convictions. A bank robbery wouldn’t be a bank robbery if the robber didn’t get any money. You know, it was just a joke. Can’t have a robbery without the robber getting some money, right?
How about attempted murder? If no one dies how do you know that the end product was supposed to be murder? We could go on and on listing crimes that may not be crimes if it doesn’t get completed. Of course laws were enacted to punish the crime whether or not it is fulfilled.
The term “quid pro quo” has been adopted by Trump’s defenders because it clouds the seriousness of what Trump did. It sounds like he is being accused of some foreign sounding technical crime that isn’t a crime unless all part of the transactions are completed. What really happened is that Trump attempted to solicit a bribe of (false) information from the Ukrainian president on a potential opponent of Trump. Such information would certainly be considered a thing of value
If the bribery didn’t work, then Trump would withhold the money forcing Ukraine to face the Russians without the weapons they could have gotten with the money that congress had earmarked for Ukrainian defense. That is extortion. It is like ‘If you don’t play ball with me, then something very bad could happen to you, capiche?’
Quid pro quo (literally this for that) is obfuscating language that makes what Trump did seem like a college prank. Let’s call it what Trump did by it’s real criminal lingo. Trump attempted to bribe the president of Ukraine and just in case that fell through, he attempted to extort Ukraine. In the process he greatly damaged our national security.
Ukraine finally got the money, but only after the whistle blower’s complaint becomes known in the administration. So the argument that the “quid pro quo” never happened is only true because the administration had to give Ukraine the money or be caught red handed. (Timeline here)
Therefore in order to clear the confusion, let’s quit talking about “quid pro quo” and talk about what really happened. The administration attempted bribery and attempted extortion in order to get false dirt on a political opponent. That, Folks, is a serious crime everywhere.
And for those claiming the “transcript” of the call doesn’t demonstrate “quid pro quo” (I am looking at you, Senator Ernst) there is no real transcript so far. There is a rough draft the administration provided that leaves out about 20 minutes of a 30 minute call. Even at that the rough draft does indicate attempted bribery and attempted extortion.