State Department official tells Congress that Mick Mulvaney helped organize controversial Ukraine meeting: report
The Ukraine debacle has been a scandal not only for President Donald Trump, but also, for Trump allies such as his attorney, Rudy Giuliani, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. And another Trump ally who is receiving some Ukraine-related scrutiny from House Democrats, according to a Washington Post report, is Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.
In the Post, Greg Miller, Josh Dawsey and Greg Jaffe note that in late May, Mulvaney “put an unlikely trio in charge of managing the U.S./Ukraine account amid worrisome signs of a new priority, congressional officials said Tuesday: pressuring the fledgling government in Kiev to deliver material that would be politically valuable to President Trump.” That “trio,” according to the Post, consisted of two diplomats (Gordon Sondland and Kurt Volker) as well as Energy Secretary Rick Perry.
The role that Mulvaney played in recruiting Sondland, Volker and Perry to take over relations with Ukraine was revealed on Tuesday when George Kent (Ukraine expert for the U.S. State Department) testified before Congress at a closed-door hearing held by three Democrat-lead committees: the House Intelligence Committee, the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the House Oversight Committee.
Giuliani, however, is insisting that Mulvaney didn’t play a significant role in U.S. dealings with Ukraine. The Post quotes the former New York City mayor as saying, “I don’t remember any substantive conversation with Mick. I don’t remember him approving, disapproving, getting involved, having an interest. Mulvaney was not a big player in this. I dealt with Volker and Sondland.”
Others, however, have indicated that Mulvaney’s role in the Ukraine fiasco was substantial. When Fiona Hill (formerly Trump’s top adviser on Russia-related matters) testified before Congress, she noted that former National Security Adviser John Bolton was troubled by the Trump Administration’s Ukraine-related activities — and according to Hill, Bolton asserted that he refused to be “part of whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up.”
The Ukraine scandal came about after a whistleblower in the U.S. intelligence community made a complaint about a July 25 phone conversation between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. According to a rough transcript of that conversation, Trump tried to pressure Zelensky into digging up dirt on a political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden. The whistleblower’s complaint led to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, previously the Democratic Party’s most prominent impeachment skeptic, coming out in favor of an impeachment inquiry.
Trump supporters have denied that there was a “quid pro quo” during that July 25 conversation, but House Democrats have been asserting that there was: military aid to Ukraine in exchange for political dirt on the Bidens. And according to the Post’s report, Mulvaney put a hold on $400 million in military aid to Ukraine in the weeks before the July 25 conversation.
A former U.S. official, quoted anonymously, told the Post that Sondland “was talking to Mulvaney all the time” about Ukraine earlier this year. And Chris Wipple, author of “The Gatekeepers,” a book about previous White House chiefs of staff, told the Post, “Mulvaney has really abdicated the most important duty of any White House chief of staff, and that’s to tell the president hard truths. He really should have thrown his body in front of that phone call with Zelensky.”