Even as Gordon Sondland – appointed by Trump as ambassador to the European Union – was testifying in a closed-door session in Congress, Mick Mulvaney, the president’s acting chief of staff, held a little press conference in the White House publicly saying what we all knew for the last several weeks, that there was, in fact, a “quid pro quo” when Trump called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and asked for “a favor” to investigate potential 2020 presidential rival, former Vice-President Joe Biden.
“The look-back to what happened in 2016 certainly was part of the thing that he was worried about in corruption with that nation,” Mr. Mulvaney told reporters, referring to Mr. Trump. “And that is absolutely appropriate,” The New York Times reports (Oct. 17).
“That’s why we held up the money,” Mulvaney explicitly said.
That utter rationalization may satisfy his base (hear no evil … yadda, yadda), but it doesn’t change the fact (I know that is a hard word for Republicans to hear), that Trump asked a foreign leader for “a favor” in the next election less than a month ago.
And all those presidential denials?
Never happened; don’t exist; pay no attention to that man behind the curtain with the Twitter account.
Even as Mulvaney took questions from the press, he made the justification sound even nonchalant.
“We do that all the time with foreign policy.”
My question for Mulvaney: If this happens all the time, why didn’t the president or you come right out and admit the deal to begin with? Why weeks of denials?
If there was nothing untoward about Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney, pushing aside career State Department diplomats to deal with Ukraine directly, then why not admit that, as well?
And here’s the ready-made commercial for any Democrat running in 2020: “I have news for everybody: Get over it! There’s going to be political influence in foreign policy.”
And the laugh-out-loud tagline: “the money held up had absolutely nothing to do with Biden.”
Mick, did you actually HEAR the president’s words on that call?
“Mr. Mulvaney,” The Times said, “tied the [Democratic National Committee] server to the Justice Department’s review of the origins of the Russia investigation, led by the United States attorney in Connecticut, John H. Durham, and closely overseen by Attorney General William P. Barr.
“ ‘If the White House was withholding aid in regards to the cooperation of any investigation at the Department of Justice, that is news to us,’ a senior Justice Department official said. Mr. Durham was seen leaving the Justice Department around midday Thursday.”
Even as Republican Mark Meadows, one of Trump’s most reliable Republicans in the House, exited the closed-door testimony of Gordon Sondland – who admits it was all Trump’s idea to pressure Zelensky – even Meadows was shocked to hear the Mulvaney story.
But wait… that’s not ALL.
Trump announces that Vice-President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo successfully brokered a cease-fire in Syria.
“But Turkey’s foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu,” The Times writes in a separate story (Oct. 17), “immediately countered that the agreement was not a cease-fire at all, but merely a ‘pause for our operation.’ He added that ‘as a result of our president’s skillful leadership, we got what we wanted…. Giving a break does not mean to withdraw our forces.’ ”
And there’s more…
On the same day this is all happening, Trump, in all his magnificent wisdom, announces that next year’s G-7 will be held at his own Florida resort.
This is the most self-dealing, duplicitous presidential administration in perhaps the last 150 years.
In a New York Times Opinion (Oct. 17), former commander of the United States Special Operations Command, William McRaven, commenting on the abrupt withdrawal from Syria, sums it all up: “…if this president doesn’t demonstrate the leadership that America needs, both domestically and abroad, then it is time for a new person in the Oval Office — Republican, Democrat or independent — the sooner, the better. The fate of our Republic depends upon it.”
It’s not just that the S.S. Trumptanic has hit multiple icebergs, it’s that the only way it stays afloat is because Republicans like Jim Jordan, Kevin McCarthy and Mark Meadows are below decks manning the water pumps and the water level is quickly rising above their chins.
Memo to the Three Amigos: You’re going down with the ship.