Rand Paul Argues Quid Pro Quo Is The Norm, Says Aid Is Meant To Influence Receiving Country's Behavior

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul published a Breitbart opinion article on Thursday arguing that all foreign aid is quid pro quo.

With President Donald Trump facing intense scrutiny amid a Democratic inquiry into whether he withheld $400 million in security aid from Ukraine in to pressure the country to conduct investigations that could offer him political benefit, many Republican lawmakers have sought to fight back against the impeachment inquiry by insisting that no quid pro quo occurred.

That defense seemed to falter last week, when acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said that the agreement with Ukraine had been a quid pro quo, before walking back his remarks. The Republicans defense took another blow this week, when Bill Taylor, the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, reportedly testified Tuesday that Trump had tied aid money to political investigations.

Even so, Trump on Wednesday cited comments from Representative John Ratcliffe, who said that a quid pro quo could not have occurred because Ukraine did not know that aid was being withheld, a line that had emerged as a new defense against the allegations.

But on Thursday, The New York Times reported that the Ukrainians did, in fact, know that aid was being withheld. The paper said that the Ukrainian government had knowledge of the stalled aid while Rudy Giuliani, the president's personal lawyer, was pushing the Ukrainian president to publicly say he would conduct the investigations Trump desired.

Paul argued a different defense in the piece: all foreign policy is quid pro quo.

"Democrats want people to be alarmed by a Latin phrase, but, really, making foreign aid contingent on behavior is actually the defining reason that countries supposedly give aid—to influence the behavior of the receiving country," Paul wrote.

Paul also used a strategy that has emerged prominently at the House impeachment investigations continue: seeking to redirect attention to Democrats.

"But I've yet to hear Democrats complain about the money (quid) that Hillary Clinton paid foreign spy Christopher Steele to get dirt (the quo) on her political opponent—Donald Trump," he wrote. The dossier was financed by Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign.

Republicans have focused on the conduct of former Vice President Joe Biden, successfully turning an unsubstantiated claim into a question during a debate.

While in office, Biden threatened to withhold aid from Ukraine unless the country fired Viktor Shokin, their top prosecutor. Other Western officials had also soured on Shokin, who they said was not doing enough to prosecute corruption. But Biden's son, Hunter Biden, was on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company that was under investigation by Shokin, and Republicans have seized on this detail to claim Biden, not Trump, should be investigated for misconduct. While critics of Biden have been unable to demonstrate that he acted inappropriately, the former vice president has faced a litany of questions about Hunter Biden using the family name in business dealings.

Senator Rand Paul talks with SiriusXM's Olivier Knox and Julie Mason during a Town Hall event on October 11 in New York City. Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for SiriusXM