President Trump and Republicans have been repeatedly slamming the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry as a “partisan sham” that’s about politics rather than a patriotic duty to defend the interests of the country, as Democrats have insisted. A new detail about a sudden, unified shift in the Democrats’ talking points, however, shows just how political the impeachment game really is.
As The Daily Wire and other outlets on the right have noted, after weeks of accusing Trump of imposing a “quid pro quo” on Ukraine — allegedly requiring the administration to follow through on investigations into alleged corruption involving Joe and Hunter Biden and Ukraine-based energy company Burisma and alleged Ukrainian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election in order to receive $391 million in U.S. military aid — the Democrats have dropped the Latin term altogether.
Now, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who is heading up the impeachment effort, and his colleagues are uniformly hammering a new allegation against Trump: “bribery.”
In an interview with NPR’s “Morning Edition” Tuesday, Schiff notably avoided mentioning the term “quid pro quo,” and instead said he believes he can prove that Trump committed several impeachable crimes, particularly “bribery” and “high crimes and misdemeanors,” which NPR pointed out are “both explicitly outlined in the Constitution as impeachable offenses.”
“Bribery, first of all, as the founders understood bribery, it was not as we understand it in law today. It was much broader,” said Schiff, allowing himself as much room as possible in the allegation. “It connoted the breach of the public trust in a way where you’re offering official acts for some personal or political reason, not in the nation’s interest.”
So what prompted the switch? Many conservatives and Trump defenders pointed out one obvious possible rationale: the Democrats’ “quid pro quo” argument has largely fallen apart. The transcript of the famous July 25 call that started it all released by the Trump administration shows no explicit quid pro quo. Ukrainian officials, including the president himself on multiple occasions, have made clear that they did not believe there was any form of quid pro quo attached to the investigations. And the U.S. released the aid without Ukraine beginning to conduct or publicly committing to conduct the investigations.
That all very well may be true, but according to a new report by The Washington Post, another strong impetus inspired the Democrats to alter their rhetoric. The report sheds light on the Democrats’ decision to drop “quid pro quo” and start hammering “bribery,” and it’s purely partisan politics: the opinion of voters in 2020 battleground states. The Post reported Thursday:
Publicly, the Democrats have tried to defend the significant shift by arguing that they are just trying to avoid using “Latin words” in getting out their message, suggesting Americans aren’t sophisticated enough to follow their high-minded arguments. But the Post exposes the Democrats’ most urgent concern, 2020.