November 5, 2019 | Reading Time: 2 minutes

QT: When quid pro quo is extortion

Use that word.

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The president has floated the idea of agreeing to keep the government open if the Democrats drop the impeachment investigation. Three quick thoughts on that.

One is courtesy of Bloomberg’s Jonathan Bernstein: “Republicans should’ve learned their lesson by now. In 1994, 2013 and last winter, they thought a shutdown would be to their advantage. All three times, it turned out to be a really poor idea that didn’t work at all as a negotiating tactic and didn’t give them a boost in public opinion. This suggests they’ll be reluctant to go along with the president if he wants another one. And he’d need their support: If a temporary measure passes with the backing of both parties, Trump might well block it only to have Congress override his veto.”

The second is related to the first. This isn’t a negotiating tactic. To negotiate is to engage in quid pro quo, which is to demand something for something in return to the mutual benefit of both parties. That’s not what Donald Trump doing. There’s a better word to describe holding millions of paychecks hostage for his personal benefit.

It’s not quid pro quo. It’s extortion.

Which brings me to a third point. What the president is doing to the Democrats vis-a-vis impeachment and the government is the same thing he did to Volodymyr Zelensky. Ukraine’s president wanted something from the US—about $400 million in military aid. Trump knew he wanted it. So he asked Zelensky to “do us a favor though.” That favor, of course, was helping Trump write Russia out of the history of the 2016 election and in the process protect Vladimir Putin from being held accountable for his crime.

—John Stoehr


  • Today’s Editorial Board: Yes, Trump can totally win.

  • Gordon Sondland says on second thought it really was quid pro quo.

  • The LA Times reports Katie Hill was a victim of political revenge porn.

  • Roger Stone gets a jury trial.

  • Michael Gerson says Elizabeth Warren’s rise is bad bad bad.


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John Stoehr is the editor of the Editorial Board. He writes the daily edition. Find him @johnastoehr.

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