The Federal Bribery Statute And Impeachment.

The Federal bribery statute is located at 18 USC 201.

In relevant part it reads:

Whoever, being a public official or person selected to be a public official, directly or indirectly, corruptly demands, seeks, receives, accepts, or agrees to receive or accept anything of value personally or for any other person or entity, in return for:

(A)being influenced in the performance of any official act;

The statute defines “official act” as follows:

the term “official act” means any decision or action on any question, matter, cause, suit, proceeding or controversy, which may at any time be pending, or which may by law be brought before any public official, in such official’s official capacity, or in such official’s place of trust or profit.

The essence of the offense is demanding anything of value in exchange for an official act. The mere demanding or seeking of such an exchange is sufficient to complete the offense, whether or not the actual exchange occurs. The broad language also explicitly states that demanding or seeking such an exchange violates the law whether done directly or indirectly.

I see at least two counts of bribery against the President as he conditioned two distinct official acts on the President of Ukraine making public statements of investigations of the DNC server matter and Biden’s son. These official acts were:

1. A White House visit for President Zelenskyy. This is actually the stronger case because the witnesses have made clear it came first, was directly communicated to the Ukrainians, and the Ukrainians were aware of it. It has received somewhat less press attention because it does not involve money and seems somewhat less egregious than withholding tax dollars. It may well be less egregious, but it is all the same still conditioning an official act on the thing of value Trump so strongly demanded. It is impossible to deny that a White House meeting in the Oval Office is an official act under the statute.

2. Withholding the military aid. The hold on military aid was an official act, and releasing it was an official act. Trump sought to condition the aid on Zelenskyy making a public statement to embarrass Trump’s biggest political opponent.

When Trump defenders you encounter demand to know what specific statute was violated, please feel free to direct them to this article. You may also remind them that bribery is expressly mentioned in the Constitution as a basis for impeachment.

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