I like a lot of what David French says, but he has Trump Derangement Syndrome and he has it bad. Two things from French’s column:
- “Trump’s belief is faked-moon-landing level nonsense, and he explicitly linked it to military aid”
- Trump “tried to coerce a desperate, dependent ally into investigating a domestic political opponent”
Both statements cannot be true.
If Trump believes the conspiracy theory, then he was acting to fight corruption in Ukraine. Therefore, he doesn’t have the mens rea to be guilty of a crime. You may not like what he did, but you have a difference over policy, not a criminal offense.
If Trump does NOT believe the conspiracy theory and is using it as cover to get a foreign nation to meddle in 2020, then you have the mens rea for a crime to have taken place.
You have to pick one.