The whistleblower report makes the following allegation:

In the course of my official duties, I have received information from multiple U.S. Government officials that the President of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election

In the transcript, Trump says:

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.

So Trump is clearly requesting an investigation of Biden here. That seems clear. My question concerns how one would legally show the motive of that request was to impact the election.

It also seems clear that such an investigation could produce information that would negatively impact the Biden 2020 campaign. But that does not necessarily demonstrate motive.

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    The question might be more answerable with "how common is this action" or "how does this action compare with established norms" rather than "is it legal"; impeachment is not a legal process. – user4556274 Sep 29 '19 at 19:23
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    To clarify, how would you legally show the motive of any crime? I'm not a lawyer, so I might be missing something important, but it seems like the only thing you can do is present all the information, make an argument, and hope it convinces the jury. What level of evidence are you imagining would answer this question? – divibisan Sep 30 '19 at 18:24
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    @divibisan: Exactly. It's just applying Occam's Razor: what other plausible motive could Trump have had for asking for an investigation of Biden and/or Biden's son in particular? – jamesqf Sep 30 '19 at 18:31
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    It's considered bad practice here to significantly change your question after answers have been posted. Especially if the answers do not even address the new version of your question. People have put time and effort into answering your original question. If you want to ask a different question, please, do that in a separate question. – grovkin Sep 30 '19 at 18:40
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    @divibisan it wouldn't be a crime even if such a motive could be shown. Someone's political interests can align with their professional responsibilities. It's not even unethical to act on those interests in such cases. – grovkin Sep 30 '19 at 18:43

This is a badly framed question is several ways.

You seem quite unaware that there's no deep "legal perspective" here to entertain. Impeachment is essentially a political process, with a rather vague standard of "high crimes and misdemeanors".

Second, the scandal includes more elements. Like whether Trump withheld aid for no good (state) reason. And what was Giuliani doing in bypassing the official channels in his "investigation" in Ukraine etc.

I strongly doubt they'll put a single article of impeachment over a single issue of whether Trump is or isn't entitled to ask Ukraine to investigate the Bidens, ignoring all the context leading to this phone call.

But since no articles of impeachment (over this) have been announced, even as a draft, your framing is highly speculative.

For example, Pelosi said:

Nancy Pelosi: [Trump] told me it was perfect. There was nothing in the call. But I know what was in the call. I mean, it was in the public domain. He didn't even know that it was wrong. You know, he was saying, "It was perfect. There was nothing wrong." Well, no, it is wrong. It is wrong for a president to say that he wants you-- another head of state-- to create something negative about his possible political opponent to his own advantage, at the expense of our national security, his oath of office to the Constitution and the integrity of our elections.

So as Jontia comments below, the impeachment message will probably be simple, but not as simple as "you're just not allowed to ask that".

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    "I strongly doubt they'll put a single article of impeachment over a single issue of whether Trump is or isn't entitled to ask Ukraine to investigate the Bidens, ignoring all the context leading to this phone call." By this do you mean all other context related to the Ukraine? Or a wider 2016 to now context? Because it still feels like a "single issue" to include the wider Ukraine context, and I expect that is exactly what the Democrats will do. To keep things clean and simple for public consumption. – Jontia Sep 30 '19 at 7:51
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – yannis Oct 1 '19 at 9:29
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    @Jontia: the OP has substantially edited his question after I posted my answer. His original question focuses on whether Trump was supposed to make his request indirectly through the DOJ and whether Trump had evidence for his suspicions. In contrast Pelosi said it was Trump did in the wider foreign policy (in order to attain his goal) that was more troubling part. – Fizz Oct 1 '19 at 11:12

It's not illegal or even immoral for a President to make requests which may have the side effect of effecting elections. Everything, after all, can potentially effect elections.

What a candidate (including an incumbent President) cannot do is request a foreign national something "of value" to his campaign. This may seem like a play on words, but that is not the same as something of benefit to his campaign. This has been explored in some detail in this law.SE question.

Requesting an investigation of a corrupt or a criminal matter is not, in itself, either a crime or even immoral. Even if it benefits his campaign, it's still something that any honest man should welcome. It does not fall within the boundaries of what is prohibited as an in-kind donation of "something of value".

As the person tasked with executing laws, it is doubly-so a President's job to ensure that criminal matters involving US citizens abroad are properly investigated.

Despite the fact that it is "all too convenient", the fact that his personal interests may align with his professional responsibilities in this particular case, does not mean that this President should be avoiding his responsibility of ensuring that a potentially criminal matter is investigated.

Could he make the request to the DOJ?

If he is aware of any reason to investigate someone who is a political rival, he must make the request to investigate. This comes with the job of being the executive branch of the US government. Running for President is not a carte blanche to commit crimes or to have a clean slate for any previous crimes. Any potential candidate who may need to be investigated should be. No one is above the law.

Could he make a request to a foreign government?

Assuming the United States recognizes this foreign government as having sufficiently advanced legal system to investigate crimes and assuming that the US government expects such an investigation to be conducted fairly, yes. Since the US has treaties with Ukraine which outline steps for mutual cooperation in investigating criminal matters, the US government does treat Ukraine as a competent partner in such matters.

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    @Fizz you are referring to the process. But this was not a question about the process. It was about the facts of the accusation against Trump. And that's what answered. – grovkin Sep 29 '19 at 20:45
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    What accusation are you talking about? The House has yet to vote on any article on impeachment. They have not even drafted the articles of impeachment, as far as I can tell (I mean after the Ukraine scandal broke out.) – Fizz Sep 29 '19 at 20:48
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    @Fizz those would be the formal accusations. I am talking about the matter which is being publicly discussed as the reason for the impeachment inquiry. – grovkin Sep 29 '19 at 20:55
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    Regarding that treaty, does it say anywhere that the president of the US should be involved in investigating criminal matters? I couldn't find it and I assume, I haven't read all of it, that there are procedures involving the judicial branch and maybe the Department of State. It also seems that there is no criminal investigation into Biden in the US, so it's weird that the president would go about that on his own rather than refer it to the Justice Department which has procedures for that (see article 4 of the linked treaty). – JJJ Sep 30 '19 at 18:48
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    @grovkin: That argument is just nonsense. When does a President ever request investigations of partcular individuals who are not remotely threats to the security of the US? Add in the fact that the particular individuals in question just happen to be a political opponent and his son (and that there'd already been investigations that found no wrongdoing, and that in any case it'd be a matter for Ukranian law enforcement, not US), and it seems fairly obvious that the President is using his office for political gain. – jamesqf Oct 1 '19 at 3:26

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