Why President Donald Trump’s Ukraine scheme matters

By

Opinion

November 25, 2019 - 10:22 AM

Over the last two weeks, in sworn testimony from experienced public servants with no political axes to grind, the American people have learned that President Trump orchestrated a scheme to extract what he called a “favor” from a foreign leader by withholding a White House meeting and hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid, against his own administration’s policy and the bipartisan wishes of Congress.

And yet the details of the Ukraine story — involving veiled threats, Latin phrases, less genteel “Trumpspeak” and “irregular channels” of diplomacy — don’t map neatly onto some Americans’ idea of obvious wrongdoing. One nagging question for many is whether Mr. Trump was really doing all this for himself, rather than in pursuit of the American national interest. It’s a crucial question; in fact, it’s at the heart of the inquiry.

After all, there’s nothing wrong with conditioning foreign aid on compliance with established foreign policy goals. But that’s not what Mr. Trump did. To the contrary, every known piece of evidence offered so far points in the other direction.

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