The Republican argument against impeachment is that, while there might well have been a quid pro quo, it is does not meet the standard of “high crimes and misdemeanors” specified in the Constitution. They base this on the assumption that any international trade agreement, for example, involves agreeing to buy other countries’ products if they allow us to sell ours there. But such an agreement is in the national interest, not that of an individual.
So, setting aside that argument, and since a personal favor was being requested, ask the question, how would offering to pay previously promised financial aid in an effort to influence another to provide information helpful as a personal favor to the individual withholding the aid be best defined. Such a situation would constitute bribery, payments made for personal favor given or promised in order to influence the judgment or conduct of another person. This is analogous to paying someone money or offering a pardon to keep a secret, such as involving information of an extramarital affair.
Bribery is a criminal offense, punishable under state and federal laws. Further, attempts to impede efforts to uncover information about this crime also constitute a crime under state and federal law. Thus, setting aside the “no quid pro quo” argument, we are left with the crimes of bribery and impeding the instigation of that crime. The case can be made, then, that what reportedly transpired between the occupant of the oval office and the president of Ukraine meets the Constitutional standard of high crimes and misdemeanors.
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Robert B. Harris, Ph.D.
Albany (Nov. 6)