You may recall that when President Donald Trump attempted to extort the nation of Ukraine last year for dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, he spelled out the deal he was suggesting this way during his infamous phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on the matter of sending military assistance to Ukraine:
“I would like you to do us a favor though.”
That was the quid pro quo: You do this for me, I’ll send the military aid to your country.
And now Trump is doing the very same thing again, except this time he’s trying to extort blue state governors.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) mentioned Thursday that she believes the upcoming federal aid package being discussed by Congress would include at least $1 trillion for state and local governments that are struggling as a result of the coronavirus pandemic that has left 30 million Americans unemployed and over 65,000 dead.
When Trump was asked about Pelosi’s comments and whether or not he supported such legislation, he responded:
“We’re going to take a look at it. I think we want to take a little bit of a pause. But if we do that, we’ll have to get something for it.”
As Steve Benen rightly explains in an article he wrote for MSNBC.com, Trump is resorting to his Ukraine playbook and engaging in yet another quid pro quo:
“Perhaps the most striking element of Trump’s posture is the extortion model: the Republican might be willing to help states and cities, but he believes he’s entitled to ‘get something’ in exchange for doing the right thing.”
Of course, that raises another question: What exactly does Trump want this time? Once again, Benen explains:
“The president suggested this week that he has ‘sanctuary city adjustments’ in mind, despite their irrelevance to the crisis.”
In essence, Trump is saying he’s willing to support helping the states, but they’re going to have do whatever he wants them to in exchange.
The bottom line is the same as it was in Ukraine: If Trump gets whatever he wants, he’ll get on board with helping what he calls “Democrat states.”
Catherine Rampell of The New York Times summed up Trump’s favorite mafioso tactic thusly:
“A more public-service-oriented president might view a viral pandemic as a time to prioritize saving lives and providing services and funds wherever needed. But to President Trump, the coronavirus outbreak is just another opportunity for a shakedown.”
Trump was impeached for his Ukraine fiasco. He deserves to be soundly beaten at the polls for this one.