A lawyer friend writes:
The WP has an “analysis” piece in which the lead takeaway from the phone account is that there is no explicit quid pro.
Oh my fucking God. Zelensky says that they’re ready to purchase javelins from the US. Trump immediately responds by saying, “I would like you to do us a favor though . . . .” This IS AN EXPLICIT QUID PRO QUO. Has the author ever talked to a prosecutor or read a judicial opinion about what an explicit quid pro quo is? Does the author really believe that an explicit quid pro quo exists only when there is a notarized document signed by both parties that says, “Party A agrees to give Party B Y but only if Party Z does Z in return?”
Furthermore, in a trial and in a judicial opinion, the context in which the statement was made would be highly relevant in evaluating whether it was an explicit quid pro. The context was that, as both Zelensky and Trump knew, military aid that Ukraine was to have received had been held up.
And furthermore to the furthermore, the author shows no awareness that the crime of bribery can be shown by an “implicit” quid pro quo. An unstated understanding that both parties have that it is this for that. The author seems to believe, quite wrongly, that if there no explicit quid pro quo (which there emphatically is), then there can be no bribery. It will just be a matter of subjective political back forth about whether and to what extent it is relevant.
I’m still having some troubling wrapping my mind around the fact that the White House voluntarily released a summary of a phone conversation that ON ITS FACE is a record of Trump trying to both bribe and extort the president of Ukraine, into smearing a political opponent with a phony scandal.
I mean this summary IS a smoking gun, all by itself. And of course it’s probably the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the whistleblower’s complaint, which itself is just one of the uncountable number of scandals lurking just beneath the surface of this kafkaesque nightmare.
(1) A key fact, maybe the key fact, about Donald Trump is that he is both extremely stupid and completely delusional. He obviously believes this summary is the exact opposite of what it actually is. He obviously believes that it was a good idea to send a semi-senile Rudy Giuliani — a very former lawyer and a man who has been pounding shots of right wing fever swamp rotgut for many years now — to carry out this ludicrous extortion scheme.
(2) Trump’s behavior is so beyond all possible defense that it requires his defenders to maintain the sort of mental state described by Hannah Arendt in The Origins of Totalitarianism:
“In an ever-changing, incomprehensible world the masses had reached the point where they would, at the same time, believe everything and nothing, think that everything was possible and that nothing was true. … Mass propaganda discovered that its audience was ready at all times to believe the worst, no matter how absurd, and did not particularly object to being deceived because it held every statement to be a lie anyhow. The totalitarian mass leaders based their propaganda on the correct psychological assumption that, under such conditions, one could make people believe the most fantastic statements one day, and trust that if the next day they were given irrefutable proof of their falsehood, they would take refuge in cynicism; instead of deserting the leaders who had lied to them, they would protest that they had known all along that the statement was a lie and would admire the leaders for their superior tactical cleverness.”
See for example the utterly depraved Lindsey Graham:
Note again that Trump’s defense consists of claiming he didn’t do something that he has just explicitly admitted to doing, in both legal and practical terms.
. . . also this: