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Quid Pro Quo, Bribery and Extortion

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    Politicians and media are throwing around the term "quid pro quo" with some now adding the terms "bribery" and "extortion" to be more specific. I looked up the legal definitions of the terms and although quite lengthy, I have extracted the key phrases that might be applicable to the Ukraine quid pro quo:

    Quid pro quo -- "Something for something" is a Latin phrase to mean an exchange of goods or services, in which one transfer is contingent upon the other; "a favour for a favour". Phrases with similar meanings include: "give and take", "tit for tat", and "you scratch my back, and I'll scratch yours". The term is commonly applied to legal contracts between two parties but also has usage in sexual harassment cases. When the quid pro quo is illegal, it can be called bribery.

    Bribery is the act of giving or receiving something of value in exchange for some kind of influence or action in return, that the recipient would otherwise not offer. Bribery is defined by Black's Law Dictionary as the offering, giving, receiving or soliciting of any item of value to influence the actions of an official or other person in charge of a public or legal duty.

    Extortion is obtaining benefit through coercion. It is often used loosely to refer to everyday situations where one person feels indebted against their will, to another, in order to receive an essential service or avoid legal consequences. Extortion involves the verbal or written instillation of fear that something will happen to the victim if they do not comply with the extortionist's will.

    Bribery versus Extortion: A charge of extortion need not involve public officials to be made, whereas bribery as a criminal offense involves those employed by the Government, mostly, along with certain clear provisions for cases of bribery in business.

    In extortion, the receiver is the initiator of the transaction, as opposed to the giver. But in bribery, the bribee could still be the initiator, instead of the briber. The key difference, then, is that in extortion the extorting individual, the receiver of goods, is not offering anything to the extorted individual, the giver.

    Bribery, on the other hand, might involve the bribed individual asking for a bribe from the bribing individual, but in general, the bribed party will then do something in the favor of the bribing party.


    The Ukraine quid pro quo can perhaps be summarized as follows:

    Zelensky wanted and asked for military aid from the United States to purchase more Javelin anti-tank missiles for defense in Ukraine’s ongoing conflict with Russian-backed separatists in its east. Congress had already approved $391 million in aid. Trump responded to the request in a phone call with these now incriminating words: “I would like you to do us a favor though.”

    The favor that Trump wanted was in two parts, 1) Zelensky would initiate an investigation into the bizarre and unfounded theory about Ukrainian possession of a Democratic email server, and 2) he would also initiate an investigation about the Biden family’s dealings in Ukarine. Most importantly to Trump was that he wanted an official statement from Zelensky that they had opened up these investigations, which would play well in the US right wing media.

    The quid pro quo is illegal because it required a foreign government to investigate Trump's political opponent in return for military aid already approved by Congress, but put on hold by Trump. It meets the definition of a bribe because Trump wanted Zelensky to manufacture or find dirt (valuable to Trump's reelection) on his political opponent in return for the military aid.

    In a sense it might also have elements of extortion because it involved the "verbal instillation of fear that something will happen to the victim" (coercion) if Zelensky did not comply. The Ukraine government desperately needed the military aid fearing Russian incursions on its eastern border and the authoritarian bully Trump exploited that fear with coercion.

    Trump therefore appears to be guilty of both bribery and extortion. Let's start calling it that instead of a Latin phrase poorly understood by the populace.

    My opinion....

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    MSNBC's Ari Melber calls it bribery. Quoting Melber:

    "Amid a series of House investigations, however, and several public, potentially incriminating admissions by Trump, Democrats haven’t settled on a core legal rationale for impeachment, which is striking, considering the Constitution’s answer is staring them in the face. Trump’s statements and actions with regard to Ukraine appear to fit one of the few offenses the Constitution specifically lists as impeachable: Bribery.

    "Along with treason, it’s the only impeachable offense expressly listed in Article II, Section 4 before the catchall category, “high Crimes and Misdemeanors,” as a reason to impeach federal officials, who “shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

    "The legal case would be that Trump sought a bribe."

    Bribery, bribery, bribery....

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    The Center for American Progress calls it extortion:

    Trump’s Extortion of Ukraine: A Complete Government Shakedown

    "It now appears that President Donald Trump was running an extortion campaign against Ukraine, as well as a complex cover-up to keep the public in the dark about his abuse of power...However, the Ukraine extortion scheme doesn’t just implicate President Donald Trump; rather, it involves a whole host of top administration officials and advisers."

    Extortion, extortion, extortion...

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    I'll put my 2 cents in now, I've been wanting to discuss this by starting a new thread a week ago, but was reluctant at calling it what it is.

    First of all, Trump can barely say those three words when he addresses his followers at campaign rallies. Who started this phrase in the first place?

    When you talk of this 3 word phrase, you could even be talking about how American foreign policy works, we don't know all the details of deals made behind closed doors or with back door diplomacy in deals the U.S. has made with other countries. I'd like to know why Saudi's get a pass on human rights abuses and we still sell them weapons. What about Iraq? What deals did we make with that country's installed leaders?

    What about political leaders? here's one: Rod Blagojevich, "He was found guilty on all charges pertaining to the Senate seat, as well as extortion relating to state funds being directed towards a children's hospital and race track. However, he was acquitted on a charge pertaining to the tollway extortion and avoided a guilty verdict (by split decision) on attempting to extort Rahm Emanuel.[131][132] On December 7, 2011, Blagojevich was sentenced to 14 years in federal prison."

    That is a great example of a quid pro quo.

    In discussing Trump and comparing him with back door deals made with other nations, I'm comparing oranges to apples. Why and how? Well, first of all, e.g., we're not talking about Ukraine getting their forces out of somewhere and we'll give you $531M, what we're talking about here is finding dirt on political candidates, from a foreign nation, this is wrong on so many levels. Usually, when we make deals with foreign nations, it involves troop movements or the occupation of foreign land, not a political rival.

    What Trump did is extortion IMHO, it is this man's MO, he never gives up anything for nothing, and claims he is the deal maker. How many times have we seen him do this over and over again and again? I surmise that the GOP is complicit, since no GOP leaders are willing to step forward and call Trump out on his dirty dealings. Why? They're afraid of what Trump will do to their political careers, they're washing his back while he scratched theirs.

    (M.O.) modus operandi: Modus operandi, (Latin: “operating method”,)abbreviation Mo, in criminology, distinct pattern or manner of working that comes to be associated with a particular criminal.

    If Trump was making this dirty deal with Ukraine's leaders, just think of all the other dirty little deals that haven't come to light yet. I'm confident that once his tax documents become public, the whole world will come crashing down upon him. He's probably very afraid that might happen. He should keep Rudolph as his attorney, he's a talker, and he can help in the impeachment process.

    The one thing that bugs me about this diplomat, a Trump advisor and campaign contributor, Sondland, seems to have a selective memory, or has memory problems. Perhaps when threatened with legal action by a house member, that refreshed his memory into telling the truth?

    It's like I held up a gas station yesterday, was apprehended, the cops say they're going to go after me for the station attendant's death, and I say well, I didn't kill, but I'll tell you the truth now, my buddy killed the station attendant. But I'm just as guilty because I was there when it happened. I'll do a guilty plea for a lesser charge (Sondland) lying to congress, rather than being complicit to extortion.