While President Trump is sticking with the “no quid pro quo” defense of his “perfect” phone call with Ukraine’s president, Republicans in Congress continue to be all over the map.
Louisiana Republican senator John Kennedy argued on CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday that assessing President Trump’s motive will be the decisive factor in any Senate impeachment trial:
The quid pro quo, in my judgment, is a red herring. Here are the two possible scenarios. Number one, the president asked for an investigation of a political rival. Number two, the president asked for an investigation of possible corruption by someone who happens to be a political rival. The latter would be in the national interest. The former would be in the president’s parochial interests and would be over the line. I think this case is going to come down to the president’s intent — his motive. Did he have a culpable state of mind? For me … there are only two relevant questions that need to be answered. Why did the president ask for an investigation? And number two, and this is inextricably linked to the first question, what did Mr. Hunter Biden do for the money?
Face the Nation host Margaret Brennan asked: “So, over the line, does that mean impeachable?”
“Yeah, probably,” Kennedy replied.
South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham, on the other hand, still insists there was no quid pro quo between President Trump and Ukraine. But both Graham and Kennedy agree that a quid pro quo motivated by electoral politics would be deeply problematic, and possibly impeachable. “Senator, if there was a quid pro quo, would that be an impeachable offense in your opinion?” a reporter in the Capitol asked Graham last week. “You know, I don’t know,” Graham replied. “We put conditions on aid all the time. But if you said, ‘I’m not going to give you money unless you investigate my political opponent to help me politically,’ that would be completely out of bounds.”