The smoking gun has already been revealed

A second question: Was Trump involved in a provable quid pro quo? It is the emerging Republican contention that the legal demonstration of a quid pro quo should require an explicit blackmail threat from the president. The goal is to set a standard so high that it is practically unreachable — like demanding that the judge personally witness a murder before a conviction can occur. Some Republicans are essentially contending that a real quid pro quo requires chanting the Latin words during the deed. They might eventually insist on a signed document stamped with the words quid pro quo by the White House counsel’s office.

Whatever strategy Republicans adopt, the smoking gun has already been revealed. It is the rough transcript of the Ukraine conversation that the White House initially parked in a classified computer system but released after the call was exposed by a whistleblower. A common-sense reading of that text reveals a president of the United States involved in a politically motivated shakedown of a foreign leader.

This is a quid pro quo. It is a corrupt quid pro quo. It is a proven quid pro quo. In the end, there is only one question: Does it rise to the level of “high crimes and misdemeanors”?