Dear President Trump,
What was with that weird “hug” yesterday? Kurt Suzuki didn’t seem the least bit fazed, caught up as he was in his own glory moment and apparently the sheer joy of getting to share it with you (go figure). You don’t even have to try, you just spontaneously come up with the most whacked stuff – it’s like you’re a full-time slapstick artist even though you’d never make it through a real audition with those cringey, lame moves of yours.
But let’s go back to Mr. Suzuki’s non-reaction. He doesn’t appear to have missed a beat – his smile didn’t waver one bit and there’s been no negative post-hug analysis coming from him. So, ok, you picked your hug-ee well.
I also think you picked your extort-ee (or your quid pro quo-ee) well. Zelensky has already gone on record saying he doesn’t feel you were pressuring him into doing anything at all, let alone anything untoward, by holding back the already allocated military aid in exchange for “a favor”. Does it matter whether the extort-ee thinks (and is willing to say they think) they were being extorted? In the official legal definition, it doesn’t appear to be the case, but Danya Perry, a former US prosecutor seems to believe it matters. Here’s what she’s quoted to have said to an HP reporter (article is entitled: “Another term for Trump’s quid pro quo? Extortion”):
“The statute is often applied to a demand or a threat made by a public official in order to obtain something of value in exchange for his or her performance of an official act. The House is examining, among other things, whether the Ukrainian government felt under pressure to investigate the Bidens as a prerequisite to receiving potentially life-saving military assistance.”
Seriously, does it matter whether the Ukrainian president felt under pressure to do your dirty work? To toss that idea into the mix seems irresponsible since it doesn’t appear to be part of the legal definition of extortion. Also, there are often compelling reasons for extort-ees to deny they felt pressured (e.g., saving face, not admitting to a weakened position, not wanting to aggravate a more powerful world player or bite the hand that feeds you, etc.).
Having a former prosecutor raise the victim’s perception as a factor in deciding whether something was or wasn’t extortion gives you and your props (GOP, Fox mouthpieces, and that ilk) a handy way to manipulate public perception. Basically, it goes back to what Mulvaney said about this kind of thing happening all the time (and we need to get over it) and lends it support, giving the impression that really, it’s no big deal because Zelensky was good with it and didn’t feel pressured at all.
All this reminds me of how dangerous it is for police to try and intervene in domestic violence altercations. They never know whether the victim will be grateful for the intervention or if they will have two people coming after them since aggressor and victim will often close ranks and become a united force. I don’t know the research or what exactly is behind this phenomenon, but it seems to me that it’s most likely to occur when the victim has been thoroughly brainwashed and/or sees the greater threat in having the sick, destructive dynamic exposed.
May we be safe to call out undue pressure.
May we be willing to stay clear on the primary issues at hand.
May we call out unhealthy interpersonal dynamics.
May we not make peace with this crap.