Now that evidence of a quid pro quo arrangement has been established in the impeachment case against President Donald Trump, congressional Republicans are changing their tune.
House Republicans have insisted they would not tolerate the president withholding congressionally approved aid from Ukraine to force an investigation of Joe Biden, but that no longer matters to them after multiple impeachment witnesses described just such a scheme, reported the Washington Examiner.
“Asking people to do something in order to get the foreign aid, that’s a relatively common occurrence with all of our foreign aid,” said Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX), who sits on the House Intelligence Committee. “You could say all of our foreign aid is quid pro quo.”
Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) confirmed that House Republicans no longer care about the existence of a quid pro quo, after State Department and National Security Council officials have told the House Intelligence Committee that the aid was conditioned to announcing an investigation of Biden.
“It doesn’t matter much anymore,” Cole said.
Trump has denied holding back the aid to pressure Ukraine’s president to announce the investigation, but witness testimony and a call summary released by the White House shows his strong interest in investigating Biden and a conspiracy theory linking Kyiv to 2016 election interference.
“Is there anything about their conversation that merits throwing out the votes of 63 million people?” said Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL). “That’s the bottom line.”
House Republicans have so far dismissed the evidence as second-hand hearsay testimony, but they’re already signaling that first-hand testimony won’t change their minds on impeachment.
“Even if the Democrats’ fact pattern that they’ve laid out turns out to be 100 percent correct, it does not matter,” said a House Republican who requested anonymity. “The law permits the president to withhold money.”
Congressional aides admit the GOP strategy has shifted as the facts began tilting against the president.
“It has gone from, ‘There is no quid pro quo,’ to, ‘there’s a quid and a quo but not a pro,’ to ‘even if there was a quid pro quo, it’s not that bad, this is just how things are done,” one GOP aide said. “You can say it’s bad, but it’s not impeachable.”