Pretty much everyone who means anything to Donald Trump advanced the bogus defense against impeachment that there was “no quid pro quo” in his July 25 shakedown of the Ukrainian president, starting with Trump himself.
“Now, all of a sudden, quid pro quo doesn’t matter because now they see, in the call, there was no quid pro quo,” Trump told reporters at the White House on Oct. 16, a sentiment he echoed repeatedly on Twitter, at rallies, and elsewhere, as tracked by The New York Times.
The Times dug up 15 different instances when Trump and his defenders falsely claimed there was no quid pro quo between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Naturally, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan were chief purveyors of that line of defense, but so was just about everyone else in Trump’s orbit, including Vice President Mike Pence, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow, counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway, Trump senior aide Mercedes Schlapp, White House spokesperson Hogan Gidley, Reps. Mark Meadows, Steve Scalise, and Lee Zeldin, and Sens. Ted Cruz and Kevin Cramer.
“Contrast that with the president’s — the transcript of the president’s phone call with President Zelensky where there was no quid pro quo. There was no pressure,” Pence claimed laughably on Oct. 3.
“There was no quid pro quo. There was no issue about finally getting the military assistance,” Kudlow said, dismissing the aid-for-political favor controversy on Sept. 26.
“There was no quid pro quo in the — in the phone conversation. So, no doubt that the haters are going to hate,” Sen. Cramer said derisively on Oct. 13.
“I think that was good because a lot what the Democrats had been raising, alleging an illegal quid pro quo was not, in fact, backed up by the transcript,” Sen. Cruz said in an Oct. 13 interview.
Actually, the transcript totally backed up a quid pro quo: It was just never explicitly stated. Every shred of evidence that has emerged through the whistleblower complaint and testimony has also backed that up.
But on Thursday, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney shredded whatever lifeline Republicans had been clinging to on televisions across America. Perhaps appointing a yes-man to be chief of staff wasn’t such a brilliant move, after all.