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Increasing talk that Republicans are about to pivot their defense of the president from "It's not quid pro quo because Ukraine did not succumb to Trump's extortion" to "Ok yes it was a quid pro quo, but it wasn't a corrupt quid pro quo." 1/n
OK look I get: the Senate Rs are in a fix. Unlike their House counterparts, most of them of are intelligent, decent, public-spirited people uncomfortable with corruption and criminality. Trump is super-guilty, and they know it. They are seeking exits from an exit-less room. 2/n
But just as a matter of tactics ... the new fallback defense is worse not only for Senate Rs, but for the country than the brazen "no Quid Pro Quo" defense. Here's why ... 3/n
The "No Quid Pro Quo" defense is admittedly pretty stupid. If you are caught with a bomb, a detonator, and a terrorist manifesto en route to Times Square, you will be be sent to prison despite the fact that the police foiled the plot before you killed anyone. 4/n
But while those who repeat the "No Quid Pro Quo" defense sound like ignorant morons, they can clutch to the raw facts of the case. Trump's attempted extortion *did* ultimately fail (after leaving dozens of Ukrainian soldiers dead without proper weapons). 5/n
On the other hand, the "No Quid Pro Quo" defense does not actually make you party to - and complicit in - Trump's corruption. You're just someone who doesn't understand law and government; maybe someone too trusting. We can't all be the sharpest pencil in the pack. 6/n
Even better, those who believe (or pretend to believe( the preposterous retain the option of opening their eyes (or enacting the opening of the eyes): "Dagnabbit, this new piece of evidence clinches the case for me! Now I get it!" 7/n
The new - "not a corrupt Quid Pro Quo" - defense being floated by Senate Republicans and some right-wing talkers sounds less stupid than the old "There's no such thing as Attempted Chemistry" defense. But its greater sophistication is also its greater problem. 8/n
The new defense is an eyes-open defense of extortion, an eyes-open defense of the president using the nation's money, the nation's weapons, the nation's alliances as his own private property for his own selfish purposes. That's the definition of corruption. 9/n
Precisely because the new defense is less stupid, it is more depraved. It says, "OK I'm not going to deny evident facts. I'm just going to make my peace with those facts. It's all true, but it doesn't bother me enough to do anything about it." 10/n
That's a much broader grant of permission to Trump than the former "Dead body? What dead body?" defense. And it's a position harder to correct later. You can always observe later what you had previously failed to detect. But there's no recovery from, "Yeah, so what?" 11/n
The "Yeah, so what?" line of defense will be harder to retreat from - and harder for the country to recover from. But it's the line upon which Senate Republicans are apparently converging, to everybody's shame, and most of all their own. END
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