Nov 4, 2019

Trump sticks with "no quid pro quo" defense as testimonies mount

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump continued to insist Sunday that no quid pro quo took place over Ukraine aid in the face of mounting testimonies in the impeachment inquiry.

Why it matters: The president is doubling down in an apparent message to Senate Republicans, some of whom have reportedly acknowledged the possibility that a quid pro quo may have taken place during Trump's July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

  • The Washington Post reports the senators concluded at a private lunch Wednesday that Trump's request for Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden in exchange for military aid was legal and standard foreign policy. Therefore, it wouldn't constitute an impeachable offense.

Between the lines: Republican leadership sources told Axios' Jonathan Swan and Jim VandeHei they expect many GOP senators to "ultimately settle on a talking point that Trump's actions were 'inappropriate but not impeachable.'" Republicans' strategy is to "stay unified, in votes and voice," they write.

Go deeper: Trump's new reality: the daily dump

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Trump snipes at Republicans for not defending Ukraine call as "PERFECT"

Photo: Chen Mengtong/China News Service/VCG via Getty Images

President Trump on Sunday tweeted that his Republican allies should not be "led into the fools trap" of calling his dealings with Ukraine inappropriate, but not impeachable.

"The call to the Ukrainian President was PERFECT. Read the Transcript! There was NOTHING said that was in any way wrong. Republicans, don’t be led into the fools trap of saying it was not perfect, but is not impeachable. No, it is much stronger than that. NOTHING WAS DONE WRONG!"
Go deeperArrowNov 10, 2019

GOP Rep. Will Hurd: A Ukraine quid pro quo would be "violation of the law"

Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas) said on "Fox News Sunday" that it would be a "violation of the law" for "a president or any official" to withhold aid from a foreign country in exchange for investigations into political rivals, though he stopped short of saying President Trump had done so with Ukraine.

Go deeperArrowNov 10, 2019

Conway: I don't know if Trump withheld aid to press Ukraine on Bidens

White House senior counselor Kellyanne Conway speaks to journalists outside the White House, Oct. 25. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway told CNN’s "State of the Union" Sunday she doesn't know if President Trump withheld Ukraine's military aid to encourage an investigation into his potential 2020 rival. But it's "unimpeachably true that Ukraine has that aid," she said.

Why it matters: The issue of whether Trump pressured Ukrainian President Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden during a July 25 phone call is central to a whistleblower complaint and subsequent impeachment inquiry.

What they're saying: Trump denies any "quid pro quo" took place, and Conway later told "Fox News Sunday" the issue was "hypothetical." "Is it a high crime and misdemeanor? I wouldn’t think so," she said.

Go deeper: Trump-Ukraine scandal: All the key players, dates and documents