White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney hired the lawyer who represented Russian agent Maria Butina to defend him in the impeachment case against President Trump.
Mulvaney hired Robert Driscoll of McGlinchey Stafford about a week ago, the attorney told the Washington Examiner. Driscoll’s representation of Mulvaney did not overlap with the time Butina was his client, he said.
Fiona Hill, a former aide to John Bolton who testified on Thursday before the House Intelligence Committee, has said former national security adviser Bolton spoke derisively of the “drug deal” being put together by Mulvaney, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, and others to pressure the Ukrainians.
“Fiona Hill’s testimony is riddled with speculation and guesses about any role that Mr. Mulvaney played with anything related to Ukraine,” Driscoll said in a statement, adding, “This inquiry continues to be a sham.”
Democrats have subpoenaed Mulvaney to testify in their impeachment proceedings.
Impeachment witnesses said Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, has been involved in “shadow diplomacy” while pushing Ukrainian officials to look into allegations against Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Trump has rejected accusations he leveraged nearly $400 million in security aid and a White House meeting to coerce Ukraine. Trump claims he merely wanted to root out corruption in Ukraine.
During a press conference on Oct. 17, Mulvaney confirmed U.S. military aid for Ukraine “was held up temporarily.” Mulvaney said Trump withheld it in part because the president wanted the country to investigate a CrowdStrike conspiracy theory about the hack of the Democratic National Committee’s servers.
“As vocal as the Europeans are about supporting Ukraine, they are really, really stingy when it comes to lethal aid. And they weren’t helping Ukraine and that’s still to this day are not. And the president did not like that … So, those are the driving factors,” Mulvaney said. “Did he also mention to me in the past the corruption related to the DNC server? Absolutely. No question about that. But that’s it, and that’s why we held up the money.”
A reporter followed up with Mulvaney, asking, “So, the demand for an investigation into the Democrats was part of the reason that he ordered to withhold funding to Ukraine?”
Mulvaney defended Trump’s decision to withhold the funding. “The look back to what happened in 2016 certainly was part of the things that he was worried about in corruption with that nation, and that is absolutely appropriate,” he said.
Mulvaney also claimed the aid was withheld for three “completely legitimate” reasons: “the corruption in the country, whether other countries were participating in support of Ukraine, and whether or not they were cooperating in an ongoing investigation with our Department of Justice.”
The DOJ distanced itself from Mulvaney’s claims.
Mulvaney walked back most of his comments, claiming “the media has decided to misconstrue my comments to advance a biased and political witch hunt against President Trump.”
“Let me be clear, there was absolutely no quid pro quo between Ukrainian military aid and any investigation into the 2016 election,” Mulvaney said.
During a July 25 phone call, which led to a whistleblower complaint that spurred the impeachment proceedings, Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky “to do us a favor” by looking into the CrowdStrike conspiracy theory and allegations of Ukrainian election interference in 2016. Trump also urged Zelensky to investigate “the other thing,” referring to allegations of corruption related to the Bidens. This request stemmed from Hunter Biden’s position on the board of Burisma Holdings and the elder Biden threatening to withhold $1 billion in loans to Ukraine while pushing for previous Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to fire Viktor Shokin.
Charles Cooper told a D.C. court in November that Mulvaney may be forced to testify in the impeachment hearings. Cooper was opposing Mulvaney’s effort to join the lawsuit seeking the court’s judgment on whether House Democrats have the power to subpoena Kupperman or whether he should follow Trump’s directive not to appear.
“Mulvaney has publicly discussed the events at issue in the House’s impeachment proceeding, including appearing to admit that there was a quid pro quo relationship between the President’s decision to withhold appropriated financial assistance from Ukraine and a Ukrainian investigation into what happened to a Democratic server in 2016 (an admission he subsequently sought to disavow),” Cooper said. “Accordingly, there is a serious question as to whether Mulvaney waived the absolute testimonial immunity claimed by the President such that a judgment in Plaintiff’s case upholding the claim of immunity will not necessarily apply to Mulvaney.”
Mulvaney subsequently said he’d follow the president’s guidance not to testify.
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