The White House is in possession of a treasure trove of hundreds of documents revealing the withholding of aid to Ukraine, the after-the-fact justification for same and debate on the legal merits of doing such a thing. One thing is certain, this isn’t helping Donald Trump’s cause, plus Mick Get-Over-It Mulvaney is right at the center of the action. Washington Post:
One person briefed on the records examination said White House lawyers are expressing concern that the review has turned up some unflattering exchanges and facts that could at a minimum embarrass the president. It’s unclear if the Mulvaney discussions or other records pose any legal problems for Trump in the impeachment inquiry, but some fear they could pose political problems if revealed publicly. […]
In the early August email exchanges, Mulvaney asked acting Office of Management and Budget director Russell Vought for an update on the legal rationale for withholding the aid and how much longer it could be delayed. Trump had made the decision the prior month without an assessment of the reasoning or legal justification, according to two White House officials. Emails show Vought and OMB staffers arguing that withholding aid was legal, while officials at the National Security Council and State Department protested. OMB lawyers said that it was legal to withhold the aid, as long as they deemed it a “temporary” hold, according to people familiar with the review.
A senior budget lawyer crafted a memo on July 25 that defended the hold for at least a short period of time, an administration official said.
Mulvaney’s request for information came days after the White House Counsel’s Office was put on notice that an anonymous CIA official had made a complaint to the agency’s general counsel about Trump’s July 25 call to Zelensky during which he requested Ukraine investigate former vice president Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, as well as an unfounded theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
White House counsel Pat Cipollone must be tearing his hair out these days. He has gone on record telling the House impeachment committees that the White House will not cooperate in with the inquiry in any way and has steadfastly refused to provide witnesses or documents. This new development certainly does not make Cipollone’s stance look particularly ethical. Look for blood pressures to soar as the heat in the proverbial kitchen rises.
The document research has only exacerbated growing tension between Cipollone and Mulvaney and their offices, with Cipollone tightly controlling access to his findings, and Mulvaney’s aides complaining Cipollone isn’t briefing other White House officials or sharing important material they need to respond to public inquiries, according to people familiar with their relationship.
Mulvaney is a critical player in the Ukraine saga, as he has acknowledged that he asked OMB to block the release of congressionally-approved aid to Ukraine — at the president’s request — in early to mid-July of 2019.
The emails revealed by White House lawyers include some in which Mulvaney urges Vought to immediately focus on Ukraine’s aid package, making clear it was a top priority for the administration.
Now here’s an interesting note: Cipollone is worried about public records requests.
Cipollone’s office has focused closely on correspondence that could be subject to public records requests, those which involve discussions between staff at the White House and at other agencies. Internal White House records are not subject to federal public records law but messages that include officials at federal agencies are.
Better look for a way to bury all this stuff as fast as possible, because if the truth comes out, it’s going to be a horrendous day of reckoning. It is simply awe inspiring how crooked and corrupt this covey of crooks in the Trump administration is. I daresay that Al Capone is looking up from Hell and taking notes on how it’s really done. They could teach him things.