Dec 16 2019

The Summary

Greg Sargent calls it a report.

Democrats just made a strong case that Trump committed crimes. Now what?
By Greg Sargent Washington Post

The case that Trump committed crimes

The case the report makes is as follows. Federal statute makes “bribery” a crime if a public official “demands” or “seeks” anything “of value personally,” in return for performing “an official act,” and all this has been done “corruptly.”

The report notes that Trump’s plot fits all these criteria. Trump sought announcements of investigations that would smear a political rival and help absolve Russia of 2016 electoral sabotage on his behalf. Trump directly pressured Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky to do this, and numerous texts show U.S. ambassadors negotiating with Ukraine for a statement announcing it, which was confirmed by testimony from ringleader Gordon Sondland and others.

Those were “things of value” to Trump. His own lawyer Rudolph Giuliani openly said they would be “very helpful” to Trump himself. And we know from those texts and from extensive testimony that Trump conditioned two official acts — a White House meeting and the granting of military aid — on getting those things of value.

Trump did all this “corruptly” — he subverted our foreign policy to his personal and political ends. The talking point that Trump cared about “corruption” is laughable: Trump, Giuliani and Sondland sought only investigations that would help him politically; the Pentagon had recommended releasing the aid; and there is zero evidence any of this amounted to a policy judgment on Trump’s part in any meaningful sense.

The report also argues Trump committed related crimes: “Honest services fraud,” because he defrauded the American people of honest service as a public official, and a subsidiary of that, “wire fraud,” because he communicated his corrupt scheme over a phone line.

I hesitate to muck it up since we seem to be emphasising simplicity, but it’s a fair question.