The House is currently hearing from constitutional scholars about whether Ukrainegate constitutes an impeachable offense. I would like to offer up a hypothetical. Consider the following two demands from the Trump team:
Demand #1: The president won’t release military aid until Zelensky goes on TV and commits to opening a serious investigation of Burisma and the Bidens.
Demand #2: The president won’t release military aid until Zelensky commits to spending at least $1 million for an investigation of Burisma and the Bidens.
Practically speaking, these are identical. Both demand an investigation of the Bidens that would benefit Trump personally. Both demand a way of binding Ukraine to carry out the investigation: the first with a public announcement, the second with a budgetary outlay. And both say essentially the same thing since any serious investigation of the Bidens would certainly cost Ukraine at least $1 million.
The only difference is that demand #2 actually states the dollar amount out loud. In demand #1, it’s merely implicit.
And yet, in much of the public’s mind, this minuscule difference seems to be key. As long as you take care never to be caught actually mentioning money, it’s not corrupt. Discuss.