Testimony to Congress this week from a growing number of key figures in the Trump administration’s relationship to Ukraine is already paying off. According to figures like State Department Ukraine expert George Kent and current and former officials speaking anonymously to The Washington Post, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney played a bigger role than previously publicly known in Trump’s scheme to get Ukraine to produce dirt on the Bidens. As a political appointee who reported directly to the president and kept information from officials like the national security adviser, the details further illuminate just how off the rails that the scheme really was.
Apparently, Mulvaney acted as a facilitator. Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-Va.) has shared based off Kent testimony from this week that he is the one who “organized a meeting” in May at which he handed over the official reins of U.S. policy towards Ukraine to officials including the since-resigned Special Envoy Kurt Volker, E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland, and Energy Secretary Rick Perry.
Mulvaney was also the one to take substantive steps like the abrupt pause of already Congressionally approved aid for Ukraine that was meant to help them fight back against Russian aggression. Eventually, handling that aid was delivered to a political appointee in the White House Office of Management and Budget. That initial abrupt pause came shortly before Trump got on the phone with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and railed on and on about the supposed need for an investigation into the Bidens. The Post says that “U.S. officials said Mulvaney told staff that he had determined that the money could be turned on and off with no legal consequence.”
The president’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who also helped in the scheme in a middle-man role despite having no formal role in government at all, let alone any kind of security clearance, claimed to The Post that Mulvaney was not involved in his end of the operation, which included meetings with figures like Ukrainian presidential adviser Andriy Yermak.
‘I don’t remember any substantive conversation with Mick. I don’t remember him approving, disapproving, getting involved, having an interest. Mulvaney was not a big player in this. I dealt with Volker and Sondland.’
Despite this, The Post does note that Mulvaney “tolerated” meetings between Trump and Giuliani when at the same time publicly, the New York City mayor turned personal lawyer to the president was publicly trumpeting his plan to try and get Ukraine to investigate the Bidens.
The scheme has fallen out into the open thanks in large part to the spark of a whistleblower complaint centering on Trump’s phone conversation with Zelensky, which took place in July of this year. House Democrats have launched an impeachment inquiry in the wake of these revelations, and they’ve already called Mulvaney as a witness, although they might have to resort to the court system to procure testimony. They’ve already heard from former top Russia adviser Fiona Hill, who relayed how national security adviser John Bolton had asked her to alert National Security Council lawyers of Mulvaney and Sondland’s activities.