The Democratic opposition today began to simplify its investigative speech for a impeachment trial of President Donald Trump by accusing the president of a “bribe” to Ukraine and leaving behind complex terms such as “quid pro quo.
The start of live television hearings from the Lower House on Wednesday convinced Democrats that they have entered a decisive phase of their investigation against Trump, and that clearly conveying his message to the public will be key if they want to move consciences towards a possible impeachment.
Perhaps that’s why House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, opted for a serious, corruption-scented word in describing what she accuses Trump of.
FROM “QUID PRO QUO” TO “BRIBERY”.
“A bribe is the granting or withholding of military assistance in exchange for a public statement (by Ukraine) about a false (US) election investigation. That’s a bribe,” the Democratic leader said at a press conference.
Pelosi said the “devastating testimony” televised Wednesday by Ukraine’s interim ambassador to Ukraine, Bill Taylor, “corroborated the evidence of a bribe discovered during the investigation” that she herself commissioned in September.
The Democratic leader thus brought to light a new term that simplifies to the maximum the mistake of which the Democrats accuse Trump: that of withholding the delivery of almost 400 million dollars in military aid to Ukraine and making it conditional on that country agreeing to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, its possible rival in 2020.
Until now, the witnesses in the investigation, the Democrats and Trump himself had described this alleged measure as a “quid pro quo,” a Latin expression meaning something that is received as compensation for the assignment of something else.
According to the daily Politico, the Democrats recently decided to use a simpler vocabulary in their description of the charges against Trump to make it easier to reach people now that the investigation has entered its public phase and Americans can watch it on television.
If there is finally a impeachment, it would take a two-thirds majority in the Republican-controlled Senate to remove Trump from office, so shifting public opinion is key to giving Democrats some option to change conservative senatorial votes.
In addition, using the word “bribery” serves to reinforce the constitutional basis of the indictment against Trump, since the Magna Carta provides that the president “may be removed from office in a political trial if convicted of treason, bribery, or other minor crimes and offenses.
Pelosi also said today that Wednesday’s hearing “confirmed that the president abused his power and violated his oath of office by threatening to withhold military aid” to Ukraine.
And he finished off his plea by comparing the case against Trump with another engraved in the popular imagination: the Watergate scandal that led former President Richard Nixon to resign in 1974, before being subjected to impeachment.
“What President Trump has done, in the sense of acting to benefit a foreign power to help him in his own re-election and obstructing (Congress’ access to) information about it – a cover-up – makes what Nixon did seem almost insignificant,” Pelosi stressed.
Meanwhile, Trump continued with his wave of tweets about the investigation, in which he pressured to unmask the “informant” who revealed his pressures to Ukraine and insisted that the investigation set “a very bad precedent” in the country.
THE ELECTORAL FACTOR
Pelosi insisted that the Democrats have not yet decided whether they will vote to open an impeachment suit against Trump, something that would require a vote in the full House.
Nor did he give details about the timetable for the Lower House investigation to conclude, something that makes many in Washington nervous because there are less than three months left before the Democratic primaries begin for the 2020 presidential election.
Some Republican senators are considering pressuring their party leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, to schedule a lengthy impeachment trial that will begin in January and last about five or six weeks, according to The Washington Post.
That would make it difficult for the six senators competing for the Democratic nomination, including Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, to campaign in key states before the primary process begins with the Iowa caucuses on February 3.
It would also give an advantage to candidates who are not in the Senate, such as Biden, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and former Housing Secretary Julian Castro.