White House

White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney Confirms Quid Pro Quo

Ever since explosive allegations of misconduct which the House of Representatives have deemed worthy of opening an impeachment investigation were released to the press, the White House’s defense has been that the President’s request for Ukraine to open up an investigation into Joe Biden’s son was not improper because there was no quid pro quo, or an exchange of something of value. However, text messages released by Congress in addition to a reconstructed transcript released by the White House itself strongly suggest the presence of a quid pro quo in the form of withholding military aid in exchange for an investigation intended to damage the President’s chief political rival. 

The White House has responded to the impeachment investigation by illegally refusing to cooperate with Congress, on the grounds that they view the investigation as illegitimate, while simultaneously asserting that there was no wrongdoing. Yesterday, however, the White House’s defense became even more tenuous, as White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney all but admitted the presence of a quid pro quo relationship between the President and Ukraine.

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Mulvaney, who confirmed that aid was withheld from Ukraine in exchange for political favors at a White House press conference which was televised live, stunned reporters with the admission. Various members of the press even gave Mulvaney an opportunity at the time to walk back these comments, asking multiple times for clarification, leading Mulvaney to double down on the shocking admission of guilt. He then told reporters to “get over it,” adding that “there’s going to be political influence in foreign policy.” 

Though Mulvaney asserted at the time that there was nothing improper about this exchange, the White House legal counsel wasted no time in distancing themselves from Mulvaney, saying “the president’s legal counsel was not involved in acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney’s press briefing.” Later that day, Mulvaney attempted to reverse his claim, accusing the press of “misconstruing” his comments and saying “let me be clear, there was absolutely no quid pro quo,” directly contradicting his statement earlier that day.

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This latest development is yet another blow to a White House reeling from the consequences of the ongoing impeachment investigation. At the same time as Mulvaney’s press conference, Gordan Sondland, the US Ambassador to the European Union, testified behind closed doors that he had agreed to allow Trump to run Ukraine policy through his personal lawyer, Rudy Guiliani, instead of through ordinary diplomatic channels. 

Additionally, Sondland confirmed that he had told another diplomat that there “was no quid pro quo” at the direction of the President, which Democrats argue indicates the presence of a consciousness of guilt as members of the Trump administration attempted to cover their tracks. Also, energy secretary Rick Perry, who is implicated in the wide-reaching political scandal, announced his resignation, becoming the latest in a series of departures in a White House with a historically high rate of turnover.