Did a House Republican Just Admit That Trump Demanded a Quid Pro Quo?

President Donald Trump meets with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in September.Evan Vucci/AP

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Since the beginning of the Ukraine scandal, President Donald Trump has insisted that there was “no quid pro quo” involving his demands that Ukrainian officials investigate his political enemies. The president’s defenders have been particularly aggressive in pushing back against the specific allegation that Trump withheld vital military aid to Ukraine in an effort to secure an investigation of an energy company connected to Joe Biden’s son. But on Thursday, as Congress debated a resolution to formalize the impeachment inquiry, one Republican lawmaker appeared to directly contradict Trump’s defense.

In the middle of a fiery speech attacking Democrats, Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas) said that the president “was doing his job, ensuring that if taxpayer dollars from my constituents and yours was going to the other side of the world, that it would be paired with a commitment to crack down on corruption at all levels—no matter who someone’s daddy is or what their political ambitions are.”

That’s a clear reference to Biden and his son Hunter, and the implication seems unavoidable: In Babin’s view, Trump withheld military aid in the hopes of securing a “commitment” from a foreign government to investigate the Democratic presidential frontrunner. Babin isn’t claiming the quid pro quo never happened; instead, he appears to be saying that it did happen and that he’s fine with it.

Babin isn’t the first prominent Trump defender to seemingly acknowledge a quid pro quo involving Ukrainian military aid. White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney did so earlier this month, when he told reporters that Trump withheld the funds in part to secure a Ukrainian investigation into a conspiracy theory about the Democratic National Committee. Mulvaney later tried to retract those comments.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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