Self-dealing in Ukraine: The core of the impeachment inquiry

Any public corruption prosecutor familiar with the federal bribery statute and self-dealing cases will recognize that firsthand witnesses, such as Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland, Mulvaney, and Trump himself, have now offered evidence to all the elements of the offense. The bribery law—18 U.S.C. § 201(b)—is easy to understand. The elements, as they pertain here, are as follows:

Whoever, being a public official …
directly or indirectly demands or seeks …
anything of value
for himself or some other person
in return for being influenced in the performance of any official act …

has committed the felony. I believe the federal bribery crime, a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison, also gets at the heart of the self-dealing issue more effectively than some alternative theories of criminal behavior, such as “honest services fraud” (which has some complex legal issues associated with it) or foreign campaign finance violations (which tend to involve monetary help apparently lacking here).

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