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It’s fair to say at this juncture that America’s Quid and Ukraine’s Quo have been caught in bed together.

The fevered search for a damning quid pro quo since the White House released a readout of Donald Trump’s July 25 telephone call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky — in which Trump requested an investigation into Joe Biden and his son, Hunter — has proved productive.

A series of text messages provided to Congress by former U.S. Special Envoy for Ukraine Kurt Volker irrefutably shows a clear quid pro quo. Full stop.

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Contrary to White House assertions, the congressionally approved military aid that Trump was unilaterally withholding at the time (and an invitation to the White House) was being used as leverage for pushing Zelensky to conduct an investigation into the Bidens.

In a 2018 speech before the Council on Foreign Relations, Biden recounted telling former Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko in December 2015 that the U.S. would withhold a $1 billion loan guarantee if then-Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin wasn’t removed from office. It was believed by both American and European officials at the time that anti-corruption efforts had become sluggish under Shokin.

Said Biden: “I looked at them and said, ‘I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money.’ Well, son of a b——. He got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time.”

Biden’s diplomatic triumph seemed to come at a propitious time for Burisma Holdings, a natural gas company for which Hunter Biden was serving as a board member. This potential conflict of interest is the basis for Trump’s consuming obsession with the Bidens and Ukraine.

Burisma had been under investigation, but for activities before Hunter Biden joined the company’s board in 2014. Indeed, it was under Shokin that the investigation into the company stalled.

In 2015, the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine decried Shokin’s laggardly attention to corruption throughout the country, and Shokin’s ouster was greeted by Western diplomats as a victory.

Most, if not all, of what Trump thinks he knows about the Bidens and Ukraine has come from his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, who reportedly has been all over the map, from Madrid to Warsaw to Paris, working back channels and coaxing Ukrainian prosecutors to investigate a conspiracy commensurate with the president’s appetite for same.

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Giuliani’s conclusion and, therefore, Trump’s, is that the Bidens were in cahoots to issue $1 billion in loan guarantees in exchange for Shokin’s firing, thus putting an end to the Burisma investigation.

Judging from Washington Post interviews with some of these prosecutors — and with other Ukraine experts — it’s possible that Giuliani was being fed information by Ukrainian officials that may or may not have been true as a means of currying favor with Giuliani (and by extension Trump), thereby enhancing their own political status within Ukraine’s power structure.

Such byzantine calculations remind us that quids and quos come in a wide variety of flavors and textures, some tastier than others.

So far, no strong evidence has emerged that the Bidens did anything wrong, but the optics aren’t pretty for Joe or his son.

Perhaps Hunter was just a guy and who was naive (or proud) enough to believe that he was tapped for the Burisma board on his merits. Maybe he really believed that his father was then vice president of the United States and the point man for the Obama administration’s Ukrainian policy — pushing for increased gas production while withholding monetary backing until Shokin was fired — had nothing to do with anything at all.

But it’s at least as likely that Hunter was knowingly profiting from his father’s position. He was paid as much as $50,000 a month to sit on the board of a company in an industry in which he had no experience. And he got the job just as his father was urging Ukraine to increase its gas production.

Perception is everything in politics, columnists tend to say about now.

Depending upon one’s politics, Trump’s leveraged “favor” may not seem any worse than Biden’s threat to withhold loan guarantees until another official was fired. But there is a difference.

What Biden sought had international backing, and the loan guarantees were always tied to anti-corruption measures. What Trump did jeopardized our global diplomatic position and put Ukraine’s future in peril — all for personal political advantage. Trump’s abuse of power has invited criminal prosecution and impeachment.

Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

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Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker can be reached at kathleenparker@washpost.com.

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(7) comments

martian2

another whistle blower comes forward verifying the first one's complaint. Doesn't look good for the Trump lovers. Couldn't of happened to a nicer guy.

oldhomey

Hmm. Quiet on this board insofar as Trump defenders are concerned.

Jobaba

Yes indeed. Duly noted.

DMoney

I for one am tired of wasting time on hearsay, speculation, opinion, conspiracy and slander. Show me the undeniable proof of the quid pro quo.

oldhomey

The quid pro quo is there, and you know it is there. But for the sake of argument, D, let's ignore the quid pro quo. Let us just consider Trump, now that he blundered and released the transcript showing him clumsily trying to pressure the Ukrainian president to help him find "dirt" on a Trump political opponent, he is pretending that it is right and good that he does this, so he has done the same with the Australian president and the Chinese, even including the quid pro quo of holding trade negotiations in abeyance unless China helped find dirt he can use in the election. Is that not enough for you to say this is no waste of time, that time, instead, is a-wasting if we do not dig deeply into this wrong-doing by this wrong-headed man who happens to be our president? That it is NOT partisan and political, that this is a constitutional crisis that must be addressed?

new2Lax

Not so, when they get around to investigating the Biden’s we will have something to talk about. Now telling me it was investigated by the State Dept. (John Kerry) in 2014 and he found nothing actually means nothing, what would he say, getting a 1.5 billion dollar deal with China, getting hire by a crooked corporation for a 80, 000 dollar salary is okay and there is no conflict of interest, really. Well maybe the guy had some expertise in the field of energy, no, so that can’t be it, he is a trustworthy upstanding guy, no, he was a drug addicted and got kicked out of the navy. To put trust in this guy and think Biden had nothing at all to do with it is pure unadulterated nonsense. I didn’t think Biden’s meddling into Ukraine’s internal affairs by withholding funds was any business of his. It just so happens the company Hunter was on the board of was Burisma and they were under investigation, as sworn to by Ukrainian ambassador.

oldhomey

Gosh, new2, as usual, you are way ahead of the game. You have all the pertinent facts on hand, good enough right now to put the clearly corrupted Joe Biden and his mooching son in prison perhaps for the rest of their lives. Where do you GET all these facts?? How is one to dispute somebody with all the knowledge you possess? You really have it nailed, tighter than 20 year old scotch tape. Hardly a breeze could blow through the huge holes in THIS case, at least if it was was stored away in some server like the one the White House used to hide Trump's Ukraine phone call transcripts.

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