Question 1: If President Trump were as deeply concerned last year about corruption in Ukraine as his defenders claim, why didn’t he ask the attorney general to investigate it? Or the secretary of state? Why did he only ask the government of Ukraine—which, keep in mind, he was apparently convinced was hopelessly corrupt—to investigate an American citizen?
Question 2: Should the president be able to change laws after they’re passed? This is effectively what President Trump did when withholding aid to Ukraine. Congress had passed a law mandating that the aid be delivered if the State and Defense Departments certified that Ukraine had reached certain anti-corruption benchmarks. President Trump then signed that legislation into law. The State and Defense Departments made their certifications. And then . . . President Trump changed his mind and tried to block the aid.
President Obama similarly tried to amend legislation retroactively. In his case, the law in question was Obamacare, and conservatives howled in dismay. But maybe both parties now tacitly admit that presidents should have the power to change or ignore legislative text altogether—which is okay, so long as neither of those parties claims to uphold the Constitution.