White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney went out to the press room today and admitted what the White House has been denying, that there was any “quid pro quo” involved in withholding funding for Ukraine.
He gave Democrats part of what they wanted, an admission that Trump was keeping money back in exchange for Ukraine investigating whether it has the DNC server that was hacked. Later he tried to walk it back. Sorry, too late.
The big prize would be an admission that the money was withheld to get Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden. But Mulvaney denied that was the case.
What Mulvaney admitted strikes me as something everyone already knew, which is evidenced by the transcript of Trump’s phone call with the Ukrainian President Zelensky. Trump brings up money, then he brings up the server.
Is that so bad? He’s not probing a political opponent. He’s trying to get to the bottom of what happened in 2008, which benefits him mildly in that it takes away the notion that he was colluding with Russia. But that already has been disproven, or at least proven unprovable. And as Trump suggested in the call, there were other problems with giving Ukraine aid, including the need to investigate corruption in Ukraine and the failure of other European nations to pony up any money. I think Trump is just obsessed with the server and the possibility it was Ukraine, and not Russia, that was behind the hacking.
It was Zelensky who brought up Biden in the call, not Trump.
But now Trump’s problem and his public relations situation has worsened. The White House has proudly touted its lack of a “war room,” an organized effort to combat impeachment. They say Trump can do it alone, and no doubt Trump thinks so too.
I covered the Bill Clinton impeachment. It was the incredible organization of the White House effort, including a consistent message, coordination with Congress and outside allies, and extraordinary game planning, that saved him. All run through a “war room.”
If Trump had allowed this, Mulvaney would never have wandered off the reservation. Now there is alarm both in the White House and among Republicans on Capitol Hill.
I still think it will take more for the Senate to convict Trump after he is impeached by the House, which he will be. But after this, it takes a little less.