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Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney looks on as President Donald Trump speaks to reporters at the White House on October 21, 2019 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

As Mulvaney Claims 'Absolute Immunity,' Witness Testimony Reveals Chief of Staff's Central Role in Trump Quid Pro Quo

"It's hard to imagine something more suspicious and damaging than the White House's own chief of staff afraid to tell the truth under oath."

Jake Johnson

Hours after Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney claimed "absolute immunity" from cooperating with the House impeachment probe into President Donald Trump, Democrats leading the inquiry released sworn testimony from two key witnesses who placed the chief of staff at the center of President Donald Trump's effort to pressure Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden.

Fiona Hill, Trump's former top Russia adviser, told House impeachment investigators last month about a July 10 meeting in which U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland "blurted out" Mulvaney's role in arranging a White House visit for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

"Mulvaney personally ordered the hold on Ukraine aid. His refusal to come forward and tell Congress why he did that is utterly damning."
—Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.)

"Well, we have an agreement with the chief of staff for a meeting if these investigations in the energy sector start," Sondland said, according to Hill. Sondland was apparently referring to Burisma, a natural gas company that used to employ Hunter Biden, the former vice president's son.

Then-national security adviser John Bolton "immediately stiffened and ended the meeting" after Sondland's remarks, Hill told House Committees.

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a National Security Council official who listened to Trump's July 25 phone call with Zelensky, corroborated Hill's account of the White House meeting, which was attended by Ukrainian officials and Trump advisers.

"Sondland relatively quickly went into outlining how the—you know, these investigations need to—on the deliverable for these investigations in order to secure this meeting [between Trump and Zelensky]," Vindman said. "I heard him say that this had been coordinated with White House Chief of Staff Mr. Mick Mulvaney."

Erin Banco, national security reporter for The Daily Beast, reported that Hill and Vindman's testimonies "mark the most direct link between the scandal now imperiling the presidency and the president's chief of staff."

The depositions were made public just hours after Mulvaney refused to comply with a subpoena to testify as part of House Democrats' impeachment probe.

The acting chief of staff reportedly informed House committees "one minute before" his deposition was scheduled to begin that he would not show up and asserted "absolute immunity."

Legal analysts on Friday swiftly called into question the legal basis for Mulvaney's "absolute immunity claim":

Mulvaney, who previously ran the Office of Management and Budget, became a focus of House Democrats' investigation after the Washington Post reported in September that he put a hold on $400 million of appropriated Ukraine aid on instructions from Trump. During a press briefing last month, Mulvaney admitted the aid was withheld to pressure Ukraine to launch investigations on behalf of Trump.

Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) tweeted Friday that it is "hard to imagine something more suspicious and damaging than the White House's own chief of staff afraid to tell the truth under oath."

"Mulvaney personally ordered the hold on Ukraine aid," said Beyer. "His refusal to come forward and tell Congress why he did that is utterly damning."


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EU Joins Rights Group in Condemning Israel's 'Day of Destruction' of Palestinian Homes

"Demolitions are illegal under international law and significantly undermine the prospects for peace."

Brett Wilkins ·


GOP 'Silence Speaks Volumes,' Says Ilhan Omar as Boebert's Bigotry Goes Unpunished

"Normalizing this bigotry not only endangers my life but the lives of all Muslims. Anti-Muslim bigotry has no place in Congress."

Brett Wilkins ·


Africans Should Be 'Applauded, Not Punished,' Say Advocates Amid Omicron Travel Ban

"What is going on right now is inevitable," said African Union Vaccine Delivery Alliance co-chair Dr. Ayoade Alakija. "It's a result of the world's failure to vaccinate in an equitable, urgent, and speedy manner."

Brett Wilkins ·


Biden Drilling Report Blasted as 'Shocking Capitulation to the Needs of Corporate Polluters'

"Greenlighting more fossil fuel extraction, then pretending it's OK by nudging up royalty rates, is like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic," said one campaigner.

Jessica Corbett ·


UNESCO Members Adopt First Global AI Ethics Agreement 'To Benefit Humanity'

"We're at a critical juncture in history," said Ethics in Tech founder Vahid Razavi. "We need as humans to come together and decide what is the best course of action to take with these technologies before they surpass us in their abilities."

Brett Wilkins ·

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