'They should all be held in contempt': Mulvaney allies team up to stonewall Trump impeachment probe

'They should all be held in contempt': Mulvaney allies team up to stonewall Trump impeachment probe
Image via / Shutterstock.

A group of White House budget officials allied with Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney are reportedly teaming up to form a "firewall" against House Democrats' impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, an effort legal experts and lawmakers condemned as obstruction of Congress and further evidence that the administration is attempting to conceal evidence of wrongdoing.


The Washington Post reported late Sunday that "Russell Vought, a Mulvaney protege who leads the White House Office of Management and Budget, intends a concerted defiance of congressional subpoenas in coming days, and two of his subordinates will follow suit."

Vought, who has called the impeachment probe a "sham," said he will defy a subpoena to testify before House investigators on Wednesday. In addition to Vought, OMB officials Brian McCormack and Michael Duffey—scheduled to testify Monday and Tuesday, respectively—have also said they will not comply with the House committees' request to testify.

The White House budget office is central to the House impeachment investigation because of the agency's reported role in withholding aid to Ukraine on the president's orders. Around a week before Trump's July 25 call with Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky, the U.S. president instructed OMB—then headed by Mulvaney—to withhold $400 million in aid to Ukraine.

During a press briefing last month, Mulvaney admitted that the budget office withheld the aid as part of an effort to pressure Ukraine to investigate Democrats.

"We do that all the time with foreign policy," Mulvaney told reporters. "Get over it."

Michael Bromwich, former Justice Department inspector general, said that by refusing to comply with House committees, the White House budget officials are acting as "co-conspirators in the WH's obstruction."

"They should all be held in contempt once they defy subpoenas," Bromwich tweeted.

According to the Post, the officials' "anticipated defiance toward impeachment investigators comes as Trump has grown enraged that so many of his 'employees,' as he refers to them, are going to Capitol Hill and testifying."

"The president has asked for copies of witness statements so he can decide how to criticize them, complained that his lawyers are not doing enough to stop people from talking, and even encouraged members of Congress to question the credibility of people working in his own administration," the Post reported.

None of the four Trump administration officials scheduled to testify Monday—OMB's McCormack, Mulvaney adviser Robert Blair, and National Security Council lawyers John Eisenberg and Michael Ellis—are expected to show up, CNN reported late Sunday.

"What are these White House officials hiding from the American people?" asked Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), a member of the House Judiciary Committee. "Also, this is yet more evidence of obstruction of Congress, which is an impeachable offense."

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card

Close

Thanks for your support!

Did you enjoy AlterNet this year? Join us! We're offering AlterNet ad-free for 15% off - just $2 per week. From now until March 15th.