Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney is feeling the heat, and he’s desperately looking for a lifeboat.
Recently, the New York Times published an extensive investigative report about the six-week period when President Donald Trump was holding military aid to Ukraine hostage, demanding an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, in exchange for the $391 million Congress had allocated to protect Ukraine from continued aggression coming from Russia and Trump’s BFF, Vladimir Putin.
As part of that Times report, there was this passage:
“Mr. Mulvaney is said by associates to have stepped out of the room whenever Mr. Trump would talk with [Rudy] Giuliani to preserve Mr. Trump’s attorney-client privilege, leaving him with limited knowledge about their efforts regarding Ukraine. Mr. Mulvaney has told associates he learned of the substance of Mr. Trump’s July 25 call [with Zelensky] weeks after the fact.”
What are we to make of the fact that the Times was able to get someone close to Mulvaney to proclaim his innocence as a way of protecting him from the firestorm that will result from an impeachment trial in the Senate?
According to Amanda Marcotte of Salon, the Mulvaney alibi suggests he’s fearful he’ll be left holding the bag for the Ukraine scandal and made a scapegoat by Trump and his defenders:
“The fact that Trump’s acting chief of staff is trying to build his lifeboat suggests that there’s at least still real fear in the White House that this is a sinking ship. McConnell’s scheme to rush toward a Senate acquittal without even pretending to hold a trial isn’t going quite as smoothly as he might have hoped, because it gave Speaker Nancy Pelosi a reason to withhold the articles of impeachment from the Senate. Meanwhile, Trump keeps committing the very crimes he was impeached for, such as witness intimidation.”
Marcotte also suggests that readers engage in a hypothetical: The 2020 election is over with, Trump has lost, and is out of office. At that point numerous jurisdictions — including the U.S. Department of Justice with a new attorney general appointed by a Democratic president — will start issuing subpoenas and indictments:
“If Trump is successfully defeated and removed from office in the 2020 election — which is a big if, still — there will be a reckoning not just for Trump and Giuliani, but for all the players involved in this scandal.”
If Mulvaney wants to save his own ass, he’d best start making it clear that he wants to testify before the Senate. Otherwise, Donald Trump is going to toss him under the bus any day now.