The goalposts they are a’ changing.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) said on Sunday that there need not have been a desire for a quid pro quo agreement between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for their phone discussion to lead to the president’s impeachment.
Democrats claim Trump was withholding millions in U.S. aid, which he wanted to exchange for Ukranian help investigating the business dealings of former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter, who made upwards of a million dollars from a gas company in the country. Now, Schiff says no quid pro quo is necessary.
“We have discovered in short order not only the contents of that call, but also the preparatory work that went into the call. The effort to condition something the Ukrainian president deeply sought, and that was a meeting with the president to establish that this new president of Ukraine had a powerful patron in the president of the United States that was of vital importance to Ukraine, was being conditioned on digging up dirt on the Bidens,” Schiff said on Sunday’s episode of CBS’s “Face The Nation.”
“So, you see that as the quid quo pro, not just the military aid?” host Margaret Brennan asked.
“Well, first of all, there doesn’t need to be a quid pro quo,” the California Democrat said. “But it is clear already, I think, from the text messages that this meeting that the Ukrainian president sought was being conditioned on their willingness to intervene in the U.S. election to help the president. That is a terrible abuse of the president’s power. Now whether that abuse goes further, that is the withholding of military aid also as leverage, there’s certainly strong indication that’s true as well.”
Weeks before Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Trump put on hold $391 million in aid. He says he did so to pressure other nations to contribute more money and to take time to examine programs. Democrats, though, say it was a clear quid pro quo: Dig up some dirt on Biden and his son, or no money.
But The New York Times’ Kenneth Vogel posted an interesting statement on Twitter last week in the midst of the mess. “The Ukrainians weren’t made aware that the assistance was being delayed/reviewed until more than one month after the call,” he wrote.
Here’s exactly what Trump said in the call regarding Biden’s son, according to a transcript released by the White House:
I heard you had a prosecutor who was very good and he was shut down and that’s really unfair. A lot of people are talking about that, the way they shut your very good prosecutor down and you had some very bad people involved. Mr. Giuliani is a highly respected man. He was the mayor of New York City, a great mayor, and I would like him to call you. I will ask him to call you along with the Attorney General. Rudy very much knows what’s happening and he is a very capable guy. If you could speak to him, that would be great. The former ambassador from the United States, the woman, was bad news, so I just want to let you know that. The other thing, there’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution, and a lot of people want to find out about that, so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution, so if you can look into it … It sounds horrible to me.
In an odd twist, Joe Biden is on tape discussing his push for the Ukrainian government to fire Viktor Shokin, bragging that he had threatened to withhold $1 billion until Shokin was canned. “If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money,” he says he told Ukrainian leaders. “Well son of a bitch, he got fired,” Biden says with a smile in the video clip.
Now that’s a quid pro quo.