Quid pro quo is a Latin phrase meaning “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours”. The Romans used this phrase a lot when invading other countries; as in “how ‘bout you get on your knees and perform some quid pro quo and maybe we won’t cut off your heads.”
Knowing Donald Trump’s affinity for dictators, I’m quite sure he would have absolutely wet his pants over the Roman emperors. “That Nero, strong leader. Very strong. Nothing weak there. Loves his people. Believes in urban renewal.” And Trump could have been, well, Trump and grabbed all the women he wanted by their lady bits and bragged to Howardus Sternus that “they even let you.”
Of course, politics is all about quid pro quo. So is life in general. We daily make deals and decisions based upon self interest and the interests of our employers. Employment *itself* is a quid pro quo. The trouble comes when our personal self interests conflict with the moral or legal obligations that serve as guardrails to our conduct. Running into those guardrails gets us fired or in prison. Unless, of course, you’re rich and powerful. Then you often get to decide where those guardrails should be. You get to move them and if you’re Donald Trump you get to crash into and through them like you’re driving a carnival bumper car.
In point of fact, Trump has been practicing quid pro quo is whole life.
“Anyone can live in my apartments, so long as you’re white.”
“How bout you have sex with me and I’ll pay you to be quiet about it.”
“Donate to my foundation and I’ll use the money for my favorite cause: my own aggrandizement.”
“Why don’t you have a disability and I’ll publicly make fun of you.”
And the ultimate quid pro quo: “you White Evangelicals… you sell your souls to me and I will make America white again and appoint conservative judges.”
This Ukraine scandal isn’t hard to understand. The facts aren’t even in dispute. At the specific instruction of the POTUS, both the president’s attorney and employees of the United States requested a foreign government launch an investigation into the presidents perceived chief political rival. The basis for the investigation is dubious at best. In domestic law we would say there is no probable cause.
And to make sure Ukraine was listening, nearly half a billion dollars in already approved and appropriated military aid was temporarily frozen, just to show what we could do if we wanted to. Ukraine has no prayer against Russia without help from the US.
When career diplomats got in the way, they were removed and publicly defamed. When a career military officer raised red flags up the chain of command and refused to be silenced, he was publicly accused of having dual loyalties.
Supporters of the Administration claim the president has the authority to do what he’s done and that no crimes were committed. That’s false on its face. While the president’s powers are expansive, at the very least implied in the constitution is that they are used in the public interest.
The number one thing the Founders were worried about was *exactly* this scenario: A president using the machinery of government not for the public interest but for his own. That is the ultimate abuse of the power of the office. Whether it fits federal statutes about bribery or extortion is irrelevant. (His actions probably do, but that’s beside the point.) The framers of the Constitution understood “high crimes and misdemeanors” to be precisely the conduct in which the president engaged: Abuse of the expansive powers given the office of the president.
None of these facts are arguable. The only question is, do facts matter to enough Senators to see Trump convicted and removed from office. I rather doubt that to be the case, but stay tuned. There’s more to come in our next episode.