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Image: Donald Trump in Oval Office
President Donald Trump speaks in the Oval Office on Aug. 27, 2018.Mandel Ngan / AFP - Getty Images file

'I would like you to do us a favor, though': One year later

365 days later, Donald Trump seems to have learned nothing from the ordeal that began with a scandalous phone call to his Ukrainian counterpart.


It was arguably the most consequential phone call of Donald Trump's presidency. On July 25, 2019 -- exactly one year ago tomorrow -- the president had a morning phone meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky.

According to the White House’s own call summary, the Ukrainian leader, struggling with Russian aggression, brought up the possibility of purchasing additional U.S. military equipment. The Republican responded with a memorable 10-word reply: "I would like you to do us a favor, though."

The American president proceeded to talk up the crackpot conspiracy theory about CrowdStrike and Ukraine possibly having a DNC server. He soon after added, “The other thing, there’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it ... It sounds horrible to me.”

It was against this backdrop that the White House was holding up military assistance to Ukraine. It was part of an unsubtle and illegal extortion scheme: Trump wanted Kyiv to help him cheat in the upcoming presidential election, and he hoped to leverage military aid to coerce Ukraine's compliance.

Four months later, Trump became only the third American president to ever be impeached. Several members of his own party conceded that the president went too far in abusing the powers of his office, with Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) acknowledging the president "crossed the line," and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) describing Trump's behavior as "shameful and wrong."

It was around this same time, however, that Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said that she was confident that Trump had "learned from this case" and that he "will be much more cautious in the future." The Maine Republican, facing a tough re-election fight, added, "The president has been impeached. That's a pretty big lesson."

And yet, 365 days later, the sitting American president seems to have learned nothing from the ordeal that began with that scandalous phone call. Trump is still abusing his powers. He's still engaging overt corruption. He's still confident that he's free from the burdens of accountability.

Indeed, just this week, Trump described the investigation into his Ukraine scandal as "fake." A month earlier, the president added the entire controversy was "made up" by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) -- even as his former White House national security advisor made it explicitly clear that Trump was absolutely guilty of the extortion scheme for which he was impeached.

A year after Trump asked for an infamous favor, does anyone believe he'd do anything differently? Is there any question as to whether he intends to keep engaging in similar corruption for the remainder of his presidency?