Senate GOP Weighs New Impeachment Defense of Trump: Ukraine Quid Pro Quo Happened, But No ‘Corrupt Intent’
Senate Republicans are reportedly mulling a new impeachment defense — one that would break with the claims of its own defendant, President Donald Trump — by acknowledging that the White House did try to force a quid pro quo on Ukraine, but that it doesn’t rise to the level of impeachment because Trump did so without “corrupt intent.”
According to a Washington Post report , Republican senators like Ted Cruz and John Kennedy discussed at a recent closed-door lunch consolidating around an argument that aligns very closely with the testimony of to Trump NSC official Tim Morrison . On Thursday, Morrison corroborated pervious testimony of White House officials who linked the release of military aid to the launching investigations into Democrats by Ukraine, but he also claimed that he felt that the action wasn’t illegal.
“Inside the lunch, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), who ran against Trump in 2016, said a quid pro quo is not illegal unless there is ‘corrupt intent,'” the Post reports.
“To me, this entire issue is gonna come down to, why did the president ask for an investigation,” Louisiana Republican Sen. Kennedy, told the Post . “To me, it all turns on intent, motive. … Did the president have a culpable state of mind? … Based on the evidence that I see, that I’ve been allowed to see, the president does not have a culpable state of mind.”
This latest possible turn in messaging from the president’s party highlights the difficult position the House Democrats’ impeachment hearings have put Republicans in. After Trump and other Congressional Republicans rallied around a “no quid pro quo” defense when the July 25 call summary was released, subsequent impeachment testimony by Trump White House officials has repeatedly undermined that claim.