The unfolding President Donald Trump impeachment scandal is very simple to understand: it is illegal to solicit help from a foreign government in an election, and Trump and his aides repeatedly tried to push the new government of Ukraine into digging up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden by withholding an aid package.
How do we know this? Because various Trump’s officials sent text messages about it. Here’s one from Bill Taylor, an official at the US Embassy in Ukraine, to Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador to the EU, on September 1st, 2019:
Are we now saying that security assistance and WH meeting are conditioned on investigations?
Sondland simply replies “call me,” which is a solid response if 1) you suspect a Slack DM is about to go off the rails, or 2) you are a Trump appointee who senses that a paper trail maybe isn’t a great idea.
Anyway, Taylor hit up Sondland on September 9th, 2019, to talk about the crimes again:
As I said on the phone, I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.
Five hours later, after reportedly conferring with Trump, Sondland wrote back saying that the president “has been crystal clear no quid pro quo’s of any kind” and “suggests we stop the back and forth by text.”
If there’s one lesson everyone can learn from the hapless, bumbling Trump administration, it’s this: please stop texting about crimes.
Relatedly, later today, Attorney General William Barr will send an open letter to Facebook requesting that it halt its plans to encrypt its messaging apps until it builds a backdoor for law enforcement.