“Get over it,” acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said in October about Donald Trump’s Ukraine quid pro quo. “There’s going to be political influence in foreign policy.” Hours later, under pressure, he walked it back in a statement attacking the media and denying that he said what he said.
Guess which of these accounts Trump’s impeachment team has decided to focus on? What Mulvaney said of his own accord, or the careful statement presumably written by the official White House ass-covering committee?
Yeah, obviously the second one. Two members of Trump’s defense team made that effort during Wednesday’s question-and-answer period. According to Patrick Philbin, “it’s been clear in the record since that press conference that what he was saying was garbled and or misunderstood” and “He immediately clarified, and said on that day, quote, The president never told me to withhold any money until the Ukrainians did anything related to the server. End quote.” Hearing that, you might think that Mulvaney immediately clarified in the same press conference, realizing as he spoke that he was coming across wrong and correcting himself on the fly. He did not. The line Philbin quotes as coming “immediately” was in the statement later the same day.
But more importantly, Mulvaney was not “garbled.” He was crystal clear. “There’s going to be political influence in foreign policy” and there was “no question” that Trump had, in blocking the aid to Ukraine, mentioned his conspiracy theory about Ukraine and 2016.
Trump defense lawyer Mike Purpura also read out Mulvaney’s walk-back statement on Wednesday, in response to a softball question from Republican Sen. Richard Burr. Because Mulvaney’s brash honesty in his original press conference is really inconvenient for Republicans hoping their cover-up won’t look too obvious. So sad for them that the cover-up is right out in the open and everyone sees it.