President Donald Trump has a history of distancing himself from associates who have found themselves in legal trouble or turned on him in some way. It is not about the memory loss or just recalling the memory but the U-turn that lead to the controversies. Faithful aides of Mr. Trump now revisits their thoughts about 45th US President.
White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, did not testify on Friday despite summons from the congress. Mulvaney relied on his immunity as President Donald Trump’s closest collaborator. The role of Mulvaney in the Ukraine affair remains in focus, as transcripts of two polls were published in the House of Representatives.
Trump himself stated that he would have liked to see his cabinet boss make the appointment. “I think he was very good”, he told journalists.
The investigation by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives is about Trump’s efforts to urge Ukraine to seek domestic political rivals. Trump and his private lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, had come to Kiev for an investigation into Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, his son Hunter, who had previously been working for a Ukrainian gas company, and a conspiracy theory that Ukraine was supposed to have interfered in the 2016 election in favor of the Democrats.
The committee chairmen justified Mulvaney’s subpoena by saying he had “substantial first-hand knowledge” of the pressure on Kiev. Previous investigations have shown that the chief of staff may have been directly involved in deploying nearly $400 million of military aid as a lever against Ukraine to carry out the desired investigations. The aid granted by Congress had been withheld for months this year, without the government publicly citing a reason.
Mulvaney himself admitted in a press conference in mid-October that the withholding of military aid was meant as a lever. Ukraine was said to have been rushed to search for a Democrat server supposedly hidden in the country. Shortly thereafter, the chief of staff tried to reverse this revelation and spoke of a deliberate misinterpretation of his words by the media. Mulvaney’s remarks, however, had been perfectly clear and unequivocal.
With the current Ukraine investigation, the Democrats want to pave the way for a formal impeachment of Trump by the House of Representatives. The subsequent impeachment would then take place in the Senate, so the other Congress Chamber. Since Trump’s Republicans dominate there, a dismissal of the President is unlikely.
So far, the Democrats are relying on hearings behind closed doors, public polls will take place only in the coming week. The Democrats, however, gradually published transcripts of statements.
Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, Alexander Vindman, said that Mulvaney has, as far as he knows, coordinated the efforts to bring Kiev to investigate the bids . “It was about getting a meeting in the White House”. The ambassador to the EU, Gordon Sondland, had internally made it clear that the Ukrainians would have to deliver by doing research on the Bidens. Sondland has relied on Mulvaney.
Fiona Hill, former head of the Russia and Europe Division of the National Security Council, said that in a meeting with Ukrainian officials, Sondland promised the Ukrainians that their president would meet with Trump in the White House when they announced the desired investigation. This had been discussed with Mulvaney, Hill continued citing Sondland.
Trump’s former national security adviser, John Bolton, had abruptly ended the meeting because it was an “improper arrangement”, Hill said. Bolton had then instructed them to inform the chief lawyer of the Security Council that he (Bolton) “would not be part of the deal” that Sondland and Mulvaney forged.
According to previous testimony, Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani was also a driving force in the effort to confront Ukraine. Bolton called this in an internal round according to Hill as a “hand grenade that will blow us all up”.
It is still unclear whether Bolton himself will testify before the congress. The New York Times reported Friday that its lawyer has signaled that Bolton himself is aware of “many important meetings and conversations” in the Ukraine affair.
Hill described the abuse of an important foreign policy relationship for domestic and personal purposes as her “worst nightmare”. The phone call between Trump and Zelensky in July called her shocking. In her years of service, she had never experienced anything like this. Hill had given up her post in mid-July.
Vindman stressed that the $400 million in military aid had been of great importance to Ukraine. The sum represents about ten percent of the total military budget in the country. The military aid of the Americans flowed in the end to Kiev.