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Charges Of Extortion And Bribery Against Trump Are Not ‘Fantasy,’ Dem Lawmaker Points Out

Speaking on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program, Rep. Jim Hines, a Democrat from Connecticut who sits on the Intelligence Committee, explained that a quid pro quo was really, in his eyes, a charge of extortion by President Donald Trump toward the head of state of Ukraine.

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“Quid pro quo is not a legal term…what is a legal is bribery or extortion. And what happened was without a question, in my mind…was extortion,” Hines said on the program.

Hines elaborated on why he believed using the terms of bribery and extortion were appropriate during the impeachment inquiry.

“The president said, and the president’s people said, unless [Ukraine goes] public on television and say that you’re going to announce an investigation into the president’s political opponent, this aid is not likely to get delivered,” Hines said.

The Democratic lawmaker reminded viewers that this wasn’t hyperbole — and it wasn’t something that members of his party were pulling out of thin air.

“This is not a Democratic fantasy, this is a political appointee of Donald Trump saying that,” Hines said, stating that his conclusions were based out of European Union Ambassador Gordon Sondland’s deposition.

Within the Constitution, bribery is listed as a reason for impeaching a president, as are other “high crimes and misdemeanors,” which do not have to be literal crimes to be considered by Congress.

When pressed by moderators of the program on whether anything new could be expected from public testimonies this week from witnesses who have already spoken to House investigators leading the inquiry, Hines demured, saying that a lot of the information wouldn’t be new, but would be presented in a way that would alarm the American people.

“The tone of these hearings I think is going to startle the American people,” Hines said.

“While you’ve got people like my Republican colleagues and the president’s supporters clearly throwing mud, clearly trying to distract, mounting defenses that don’t make any sense, you are going to hear from some of the most startlingly competent, and I would even say virtuous witnesses that you can imagine,” Hines added.

On Wednesday of this week, the impeachment inquiry enters the public stage of its fact-finding mission. Several cable and network television stations plan to pre-empt their regularly scheduled programming in order to bring attention to viewers about the substance of witnesses’ testimonies, the Washington Post reported.

The first person set to testify will be Bill Taylor, on Wednesday. In his previous testimony, Taylor discussed with House committee members a number of text messages he had exchanged with Sondland and others regarding military aid that was being withheld from Kyiv.

“I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign,” Taylor said in one of those messages.



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