Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney failed to appear before Congress as expected for a deposition Friday. Mulvaney had been scheduled to give testimony this morning at 9am. He was reportedly told by the White House to disregard a summons tied to House Democrats’ ongoing impeachment efforts.
“This morning, one minute before his scheduled deposition was to start, Mr. Mulvaney’s outside counsel informed us that his client had been directed by the White House not to comply with the duly authorized subpoena and asserted ‘absolute immunity,’ ” according to an official.
House Committee leaders wanted to hear from the White House senior aide claiming he had “substantial first-hand knowledge and information” relevant to the inquiry. This primarily since Mulvaney served as the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), a branch of the executive office that is responsible for annual budget development and execution. For that reason Mulvaney, also current director as well, is largely viewed as a major player in the case.
“Mr. Mulvaney admitted from the White House briefing room that the president withheld vital military aid in order to pressure Ukraine to conduct investigations that would benefit the President’s personal and political interests, not the national interest,” said the official speaking for House Democrats.
A number of witnesses called by the House have supposedly indicated that Mulvaney in fact withheld military assistance to Ukraine on Trump’s orders, a charge strongly denied by the White House. Among them William Taylor, now acting U.S. envoy to Ukraine. He testified to House investigators last month that an OMB staffer notified him that the aid was being withheld, and that the request was made by the president.
House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence boss Adam Schiff (D-CA) made public Taylor’s transcripts Wednesday. Which asserted, “the hold on security assistance for Ukraine came from Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and that the Chief of Staff maintained a skeptical view of Ukraine.” Those impeachment hearings held behind closed doors in a highly secretive process decidedly opposed by Republican rivals.
Earlier in the week White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley gave a hint of possible things to come as he said Tuesday, “Past Democrat and Republican administrations would not be inclined to permit senior advisers to the president to participate in such a ridiculous, partisan, illegitimate proceeding – and neither is this one.”
The president offered an explanation on Friday as to why Mulvaney did not participate. That so he wouldn’t “give credibility to a corrupt witch hunt.” Trump declared, “I’d love to have Mick go up, frankly.” President Trump and his fellow Republicans in the Senate still contend there was no crime. Lower chamber Democrats claim the latest action only strengthens their impending case for obstruction of justice.
The sordid saga continues on Capitol Hill.
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