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 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

Mulvaney: ‘Get Over It;’ Democrats: ‘We Don’t Think So, Mick’

Though “Get over it” seems to be the Trump administration’s response whenever they’ve been caught in a lie, called out on wrongdoing, or…caught placing the country at risk, Mick Mulvaney may have been the first to say the actual words out loud and in public.

During an October 17 press conference, Mulvaney, Donald Trump’s acting chief of staff, admitted that Trump used U.S. Congress-appropriated military aid as leverage to further his personal political agenda. Trump, he said, withheld the aid, badly needed by Ukraine to resist Russian aggression, in order to pressure Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate a conspiracy theory about the hacking of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) during the 2016 election. A quid pro quo, in other words.

“We do that all the time with foreign policy,” said Mulvaney. “I have news for everybody: Get over it. There is going to be political influence in foreign policy.”

The Department of Justice, however, distanced itself from Mulvaney’s claims that Trump had its blessing for this particular “foreign policy” exchange.

“If the White House was withholding aid in regards to the cooperation of any investigation at the Department of Justice, that is news to us,” a DOJ official told the Washington Examiner.

Others, too, including some GOP lawmakers, were aghast at Mulvaney’s admission. 

“Totally inexplicable,” said one, who requested anonymity. “He literally said the thing the president and everyone else said did not happen.”

After you’ve denied a whistleblower’s allegations, what else can you do, though, when a rough transcript of the phone call between Trump and Zelenskiy, along with a number of current and former State Department officials and White House employees, confirm the whistleblower’s account — that not only was there a quid pro quo, but it was to benefit Trump personally? If you’re Mick Mulvaney or Donald Trump, you brazenly change your tack to “Yeah, we did it. Get over it.”

Though Mulvaney argued that every administration makes deals like this with foreign governments  — seeking concessions in exchange for aid — it is done to aid the interests or protection of the United States. In this case, however, Donald Trump sought to use the U.S. military aid to further his personal political ambitions.

According to U.S. law, “soliciting anything of value” from a foreign government in connection with an election is illegal. Asking a leader of a foreign country for a “favor” — to dig up dirt on a political opponent — is illegal (let alone, unethical). A U.S. president using his office to further his personal interests is impeachable. 

Shortly after throwing Trump under the bus, Mulvaney tried to walk back his words, claiming the press had misrepresented what he had said. Everyone in the room, however, heard what Mulvaney said, and there are multiple video records of what he said.

Considering the recent and upcoming testimony of several diplomats and other U.S. Foreign Service officials, including today’s scheduled testimony from acting U.S, Ambassador to Ukraine William B. Taylor, Jr., it’s clear that lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives do not intend to just “get over it.” 

Mulvaney: ‘Get Over’ Political Influence in Foreign Policy | Bloomberg Markets and Finance [2019-10-17]

Fleischer: Mulvaney made a ‘terrible mistake’ by contradicting Trump |
Fox News | [2019-10-18]