What Trump wanted

In an unflattering column about President Trump called “Incompetence is not an impeachable offense,” Marc Thiessen writes:

What we saw on display Wednesday were two dedicated, experienced career foreign policy officials who had been desperately trying to figure out what the president wanted — and inferring his intentions based on snippets of information from others. But their efforts to divine Trump’s desires presume that the president knew what he wanted.

It’s not clear he did. His handling of Ukraine seemed less the execution of an intelligible plan than a chaotic mishmash of constantly changing urges and demands. According to Sondland, “President Trump changes his mind on what he wants on a daily basis.”

But we know what Trump wanted and so did Trump. We know this not through hearsay or by inferring Trump’s intentions, but through his own words to President Zelensky.

We know that while Trump was withholding military aid to Ukraine, he wanted Zelensky to “look into” Joe Biden allegedly “stopp[ing] the prosecution” of the company his son worked for. It’s true that some of the witnesses on Wednesday didn’t know at the time that this is what Trump wanted because they didn’t know what Trump had said on the call with Zelensky.

However, there’s no doubt that Trump knew what he wanted from Zelensky or that he told Zelensky what this was. And there is no evidence that Trump changed his mind about wanting Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden at any time before news of the hold on aid became public and people, including Republicans, started asking questions.

Only then was the aid released.