Why is "quid pro quo" such a key point?

Why is the assertion or denial of a quid pro quo so important in the discussion about Trump’s request to the Ukrainian president? Isn’t it enough that he simply made a request to demonstrate that he sought foreign help in an election? Why must there be an incentive or coercion involved to demonstrate corrupt intent?

You’ve got it.

The congressional leaders running the investigation have never said that the quid pro quo had any importance. They maintain that simply soliciting foreign aid in the election is bad on its own.

Based on the text messages that appeared to lay out the defense from the White House even before anything came out was that the scheme they were attempting could never be proved to have corrupt intent if it was found out, since investigators could never prove a corrupt quid pro quo.

I’m no expert, but ISTR there was a recent appeals court decision in a government corruption case (maybe a governor in an Atlantic seaboard state?), in which it was found that the official could accept donations/gifts from someone clearly seeking government favoritism, so long as he didn’t promise to take specific actions as repayment for those gifts. A specific quid pro quo.

Seemed to me to really strain the concept of avoiding “even the appearance of impropriety.”

You’re probably thinking of Bob McDonnell, Virginia Governor, on whom we had a thread. SCOTUS overturned his conviction for bribery

In a subsequent criminal trial, the ‘quid pro quo’ may become an issue, but the impeachment itself is fundamentally a political process, NOT a criminal matter. If the House determines that the behaviors at issue indicate the official is unfit to hold office, they may impeach even without any of the elements necessary to prove a crime.

The distinction would be between “request” and “demand”. “Can you tell us what you know” versus “you don’t get the money until you tell us”. Buried in that and not discussed is the obvious third issue “if you want the money, we want to hear something bad about him”, i.e. desperation may drive the fabrication of data.

The problem is that asking for data is not a problem (except for the “why?”, the purpose of the data). Governments do that all the time. “Quid pro quo” is essentially “this for that” -withholding something until they get what they want, which is only OK if the “want” is above board and legitimate.

But it seems that in this case, the purpose of the data is *the *problem. The lawbars a U.S. candidate from asking for money or “anything of value” from a foreigner. There is no requirement that the request must be accompanied by a quid pro quo or coercion to be considered illegal. Just asking for it is enough. The controversy seems more about what “anything of value” means and whether it can mean information. But I haven’t heard that brought up as a defense. Only, “There was no quid pro quo.”

There is a separate issue regarding the quid pro quo, which is whether Trump was using presidential powers to allocate foreign aid funding to further his personal political goals, which is a charge of abuse of power.

But even without it, the issue of election law remains. Even if you accept the argument that there was no quid pro quo (an argument that is contradicted by the White House’s own release), it seems the law was broken.

So is the denial by Trump of a quid pro quo, and the fancy footwork by Mulvaney, all a bit of misdirection to make us think that point is critical?

NPR recently interviewed a former diplomat from the Obama administration, and from what he said quid pro quo in fact is commonly used in international diplomacy. The key difference is that in the past it was always used to ask for something that was in America’s interest. In this case Trump asked for something that was in his personal interest. I suspect he’s using the “There was no quid pro quo” defense in an attempt to confuse people about what the real issue is.

You are correct. The misdirection of attention to the issue of a quid pro quo is an attempt to change the focus. It’s like “no collusion” or “if the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit.”
Assume that there was no quid pro quo. (Which there was.) Your thought that the problem is still a problem is correct. It’s like saying “I stabbed the clerk at the convenience store, but I DIDN"T STEAL ANYTHING!” NO STEALING! Look over here, NO STEALING!

The two Constitutional emoluments clauses, foreign and domestic, clearly forbid 1) a federal officer, including the president, from accepting from foreign states any gifts, anything of value, without congressional approval; and 2) taking any money from the US or any state, except his salary. This apparently leaves him free to be bribed, I mean contributed to, by US cities or counties, or by private US residents or firms.

Collusion, quid pro quo, misspelling names in tweets - these are distractions. This POTUS hopes we’ve forgotten that he’s bragged of obstruction and admitted involvement in conspiracy to violate federal election laws. He hopes we won’t recall his crimes in office and before. He calls the Constitutional foreign emoluments clause “phony”. That’s cause for removal, right there.

“Quid pro quo” in the national interest is strategic but in hope of personal gain by a public official is bribery. Bribery is explicit cause for removal of a president but enough other grounds for removal already exist. The problem: how noxious must he be before the GOP-run Senate convicts?

Yes, it seems to me that very few in the media are discussing what seems to me the most corrupt aspect of this whole thing. Trump was pressuring them to FABRICATE something bad about Biden.

This is Trump’s whole thing. He fabricates shit, pulls it out of his ass, and shoves it stinking into the public discourse, because he knows that his followers will swallow it without thinking. Then he goes and extorts this new president of a struggling ally to do the same thing. Who cares whether it’s quid pro quo? Spreading lies in this way is an abuse of power, plain and simple.

Yeah - that was the one. Not saying it controls anything in this case, but wouldn’t be surprised if it influenced any number of peoples’ thinking re: questionable gifts/exchanges w/ an elected official.

Moderator Note

This is GQ. There are plenty of other threads in other forums where you can give your interpretation and opinion about Trump and his actions. In this forum, stick to the facts.

Note to all: I realize that Trump is a hot-button topic for many here, but please keep the Trump commentary out of this thread (and this forum).

My apologies. For some reason I thought this was in IMHO.

Coincidentally, today NPR interviewed Rep. Maloney and here is an excerpt, underlining mine, where he draws the distinction that directly addresses my question:

I think the point is - as we saw with Person 1 and Michael Cohen - people are less likely to be concerned about a political campaign finance violation, so it figures into the calculation as to whether the public generally feels it rises to the level of behaviour so reprehensible as to be impeachable. (Which, it seems, paying porn stars did not). However, blackmailing foreign governments (that are under military attack) by withholding duly allocated American taxpayers’ money to get dirt on a political opponent probably raises a lot more hackles in a lot more of the public. Quid pro quo is the essence of blackmail. it’s not much different than using the FBI or the IRS to get dirt on political opponents as an abuse of power… anyone can identify.

Yes, I’m surprised not more media have raised the issue that the implicit threat (although not explicitly quo’d) is that some dirt better be forthcoming, so if you don’t find any make some up. I give the Ukranian Prez tremendous credit for not knuckling under to this, despite how desperate they were for the military aid.

Well here is what his defenders will say, if given the chance in future proceedings:
“Trump swore an oath to faithfully execute the laws of the United States. He thinks Biden is a criminal and wants to enforce laws against him. Furthermore, there’s a treaty between the USA & Ukraine regarding cooperation for prosecuting crimes. It was passed when Joe Biden was a member of the U.S. Senate and then signed by then-President Bill Clinton.”
The quid pro quo argument is to say:
“Oh no, his motive was political gain, not to enforce laws.”

He thinks? This isn’t enough cause for an investigation into petty theft let alone corruption. People take jobs they are not qualified for everyday. Your logic would put all of his “acting” secretaries into question.

Ahhh, now I see the “quid pro quo” relevance. Trump’s lawyers will argue “quid pro quo is not a crime, it’s done all the time in foreign policy”. Then the impeachers will say, “Where’s your due cause for opening a criminal investigation of Biden”? (What you are getting at, Si Amigo.) Trump’s lawyer’s will say “Biden is on video bragging about a quid pro quo in foreign policy against Ukraine:

That’s why Trump had reason to believe Biden committed a crime.”
Then the impeachers will say “Got you, you just admitted quid pro quo in foreign policy is a crime, proving our grounds for impeachment.” Brilliant strategy, actually.

And also: What did the FBI say when you brought your concerns to them?
You wouldn’t have had to promise or withhold anything then, just drop a dime as they used to say.