The Difference Between What Donald Trump Did and What Joe Biden Did

Ever since a whistleblower came forward with the allegation of a quid pro quo between Donald Trump and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Trump’s supporters have scrambled. According to the whistleblower’s account, Trump pressured Zelenskiy to investigate his political opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, and his son, Hunter Biden, as a condition for releasing needed military aid funds that had already been allocated to Ukraine. 

At first, Trump’s supporters quickly denied that there was a quid pro quo. Then, when it became apparent that denial was a lie, they tried to rationalize Trump’s actions with the idea that quid pro quo situations happen “all the time” between the U.S. and foreign governments. Now that the whistleblower’s story has been widely corroborated by a number of credible witnesses who found Trump’s actions “troubling,” Trump’s supporters are desperately trying to divert attention away from possible wrongdoing by equating Trump’s actions with those of Joe Biden when Biden had worked to help remove a corrupt Ukrainian prosecutor.

On the November 10, 2019 broadcast of NBC’s Meet the Press, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), echoed the current GOP talking points when he said, “I think, really, what’s going to happen is people are going to say, ‘Oh, they’re impeaching President Trump for exactly the same thing that Joe Biden did.’

“He threatened the aid, if they didn’t fire someone. And supposedly, the president did, if they didn’t investigate someone. So it sounds exactly like what Joe Biden did. And if they weren’t going to impeach Joe Biden, they look like, you know, hypocrites, in a way, for going only after President Trump and having not a word to say about what Joe Biden did…It’s exactly the same scenario.”

But it isn’t.

Rand Paul was referring to the idea that (then vice president) Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, was a paid board member of the Ukrainian gas company, Burisma, during the time that then Vice President Joe Biden was working to have a Ukrainian prosecutor removed in order to, as Paul, and other Trump supporters put it, stop the prosecutor from investigating Hunter Biden’s company. This is, at best, a stretching of certain facts. 

Later in the show, Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.), said, “…That has nothing to do, absolutely nothing to do with the actions of the United States president in extorting Ukraine in a way that damaged our national security.”

Joe Biden was not trying to fire a Ukrainian prosecutor to keep him from investigating his son’s company. He was trying to follow through, with the support of U.S. allies, on removing a prosecutor who was failing to investigate Ukrainian corruption, and who many agreed was himself corrupt. Contrary to damaging national security, Biden’s efforts were to strengthen security for the Ukraine, as well as its allies. 

At the same time that some of Trump’s supporters have conceded that there may have been a quid pro quo, they’re also quick to try to say that Trump’s first interest was to fight corruption in Ukraine. With a president who, according to the Washington Post, has made more than 14,500 false or misleading claims during his presidency as of October 14, 2019, this is hard to imagine. What’s more, at the time Trump had decided to conditionally withhold military aid from Ukraine, the U.S. Departments of Defense and State had both certified that Ukraine had made great progress in decreasing corruption, and recommended the U.S. proceed with the aid to Ukraine. 

In resorting to “what-aboutism” as a defense against the whistleblower’s complaint and all of the testimony that backs it up, Trump’s supporters appear to be aware that they have little else to present as an argument. 

Full Himes: ‘We’ve Got To Get Off This Quid Pro Quo Thing’ | Meet The Press | NBC News [2019-11-10]

Biden defends son’s dealings in Ukraine while attacking Trump | Fox News
[2019-10-28]