No one in our political debate has been very careful about distinctions lately, so why should the Ukraine controversy be any different?
In evaluating the controversy, it is necessary to acknowledge that different things can be true.
It is completely legitimate for a president of the United States to urge foreign leaders to cooperate with his attorney general on a duly constituted probe of the origins of the Russian-collusion story, and it’s silly of the press and Democrats to pretend as though Trump’s calls to this effect are some sort of scandal. …
… Yet none of that makes it appropriate for a president of the United States, in the exercise of his official duties, to pressure a foreign government to undertake an investigation in the hopes that it might harm a political rival.
The best-case scenario for Republicans was that nothing much happened after Trump’s famous phone call with his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, but text messages released by Democrats after the deposition of former Ukraine envoy Kurt Volker document a lot of action related to Trump’s requests. The texts make it clear that a quid pro quo of the release of suspended defense aid in exchange for a Ukraine commitment to investigations was an idea that was at least under active consideration. It is notable, though, that Volker’s opening statement in his deposition minimizes any impropriety. Clearly, complete transparency — the congressional release of Volker’s full deposition and all future depositions, to match the White House’s release of the call transcript and whistleblower complaint — is the only way the public can review the entirety of the factual record.