White House

Dems Emphasize ‘Bribery’ Talking Point after Focus Group on Impeachment Messaging Strategy

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announces the House of Representatives will launch a formal inquiry into the impeachment of President Donald Trump, September 24, 2019. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused President Trump of committing “bribery,” rather than accusing him of executing a corrupt “quid pro quo,” during a press conference on Thursday, after House focus groups found the word to be more effective in persuading voters.

The shift in messaging strategy took place after focus groups organized by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in key battleground states found the term convinced voters of Trump’s wrongdoing more reliably than the legal term of art, “quid pro quo,” the Washington Post reported Thursday.

The findings of the study were shared with House Democrats this week, and the shift first began with House Intelligence Committee Member Jim Himes (D., Conn.), who said on NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday that “it’s probably best not to use Latin words” in the impeachment inquiry surrounding the president.

On Thursday, Pelosi echoed Himes’s sentiment and made the shift herself. “Talking Latin around here: E pluribus unum — from many, one. Quid pro quo — bribery. And that is in the Constitution, attached to the impeachment proceedings,” she said.

In response, Republicans suggested the shift represented a lack of evidence from the Democrats.

“They’re trying a different narrative to see if that works,” said House Intelligence Republican Brad Wenstrup (R., Ohio). “‘Quid pro quo’ was squashed. If it wasn’t, they would still be saying it, right? And, so, now they’ll try a different term.”

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