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Experts Want us to Stop Saying “Quid Pro Quo” When it Comes to Trump

Just Say Treason!

Trump yells nonsense at no one.

“Words make a difference.” That’s the point of an opinion letter in the New York Times from 33 members of the authors guild urging press and readers to stop using the term “quid pro quo” when it comes to the Trump impeachment inquiry. They worry that using a word that doesn’t imply any crimes and which can be misunderstood will lead to minimization of Trump’s crimes and they’re not wrong.

hannibal lecter saying quid pro quo

“Quid pro quo” literally means “this for that.” Yes, it’s a phrase we associate with villains like Hannibal Lecter and now Donald Trump, but it’s actually innocuous and a pretty standard term for a common human interaction. A mom saying “eat your vegetable and I’ll give you a cookie” is a quid pro quo and so is “I’ll watch an episode of Riverdale if you watch an episode of The Walking Dead.” A quid pro quo is not a high crime or misdemeanor. Using the office of president to extort foreign powers to create false claims about political rivals is.

These authors of this letter worry that in there “parlous” (not perilous, they had to use a fancy word because this is the author’s guild after all) time we need to be clear with our language when it comes to corruption and treason committed by a sitting president. They make a really good point. Even George Costanza agrees!

The point Jason and these authors are making is that words are important. It minimizes what Trump did to just call it a “quid pro quo.” It was a crime and we should absolutely be calling it that. The same goes for anything Trump or his cronies do. We can’t say things like “Trump falsely states” what ever it was he said that day. We must say “Trump lied.”

We need to be clear and concise in our language about this lying criminal (see, I just did it!) because otherwise we risk minimizing the crimes most corrupt administration in American history.  So, let’s listen to these guys and call what Trump did what it is: a crime that should get him impeached.

(Via: the New York Times. Image: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

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Jessica Mason (she/her) is a writer based in Portland, Oregon with a focus on fandom, queer representation and amazing women in film and television. She's a trained lawyer and opera singer as well a mom and author.