Laughable new GOP report: Yes, Trump did it. But his motives were pure!

Boiled down to its essence, the Ukraine scandal is really a tale about a president who has subverted the interests of the nation to his own by putting our foreign policy at the disposal of his naked personal and political needs.

This is the throbbing nexus of corruption at the core of this whole story, the driving force behind President Trump’s use of the power of his office — and the conditioning of official acts — to extort a foreign power into carrying out dirty deeds that would help his reelection campaign.

House Republicans have now formalized their defense of Trump with the release of a new report as the impeachment process shifts into its next phase, and at the center of it is an effort to make that corrupt motive disappear entirely.

The report’s new argument is that, yes, Trump might have made requests of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to announce “investigations” that would validate Trump’s (invented) theory of Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election and his (fabricated) narrative of corruption on the part of Joe Biden and his son in Ukraine.

But, Republicans say, Trump was right to do this, because his concerns about these things were legitimate and were subsumed into a much broader — and, again, legitimate — set of concerns about corruption.

The argument is a joke. But it also illustrates in a backhand way just how unconvincing any effort to sanitize away Trump’s corrupt motives must inevitably be.

The GOP argument requires ignoring voluminous evidence of those corrupt motives. It also requires accepting the spectacularly absurd idea that the investigations Trump actually did ask for were not just motivated by a general desire to fight corruption but also benefited Trump politically out of pure coincidence.

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