Democrats want Mulvaney to testify in Trump impeachment probe

House Democrats want to hear testimony from acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyJan. 6 committee issues latest round of subpoenas for rally organizers The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - To vote or not? Pelosi faces infrastructure decision Jan. 6 panel subpoenas 11, including Pierson, other rally organizers MORE in their impeachment inquiry after he acknowledged Thursday that the administration held up military aid to Ukraine until Kiev launched a political investigation requested by President TrumpDonald TrumpMan sentenced to nearly four years for running scam Trump, Biden PACs Meadows says Trump's blood oxygen level was dangerously low when he had COVID-19 Trump endorses David Perdue in Georgia's governor race MORE.

The three House committees running the impeachment inquiry — Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight — had issued a subpoena to Mulvaney earlier this month for documents. The deadline for the records is Friday.

ADVERTISEMENT

But Democrats on Thursday expressed interest in hearing from Mulvaney in person after he held a rare press conference at the White House in which he said Trump wanted the Ukrainian government to investigate unproven 2016 election interference allegations about a hacked Democratic National Committee (DNC) email server.

When asked if what he described was a quid pro quo for military aid, Mulvaney responded by saying, "We do that all the time with foreign policy." He then pointed to pressing Central American countries that receive U.S. aid to overhaul their immigration policies.

“Get over it. There’s going to be political influence in foreign policy,” Mulvaney added.

When asked if Mulvaney should testify, Rep. Gerry ConnollyGerald (Gerry) Edward ConnollyHouse Democrats miss chance to help McAuliffe Progressives see infrastructure vote next week Dem hopes for infrastructure vote hit brick wall MORE (D-Va.), a senior member of the House Oversight Committee, quickly responded with an emphatic "yes."

"I guess having failed at discrediting the facts of this case, they've decided on a new tactic, which is to admit them and basically say, 'So what?' And the answer to that is, 'Well, the "so what" is you're going to be impeached,'" Connolly said. "Because that's abuse of office. And extortion, the last time I checked, is still a crime."

Mulvaney later tried to walk back his comments in a statement released by the White House.

"The president never told me to withhold any money until the Ukrainians did anything related to the server. The only reasons we were holding the money was because of concern about lack of support from other nations and concerns over corruption," Mulvaney said.

Rep. Stephen LynchStephen Francis LynchLawmakers seek answers on armed services' plans to address gun tracking Left warns Pelosi they'll take down Biden infrastructure bill Pelosi signals she won't move .5T bill without Senate-House deal MORE (D-Mass.), another member of the Oversight Committee, said there's been a growing appetite for Mulvaney's testimony, even before Thursday's press conference.

"I'm sure a lot of people would like to hear from him," Lynch said.

Democrats have not issued a subpoena for Mulvaney to testify in person.

An appearance by Mulvaney would mean testifying before lawmakers who were his colleagues in the House until he resigned in 2017 to become director of the Office of Management and Budget.

Rep. David CicillineDavid CicillineDemocratic caucus chairs call for Boebert committee assignment removal House votes to censure Gosar and boot him from committees House to vote Wednesday to censure Gosar, remove him from committees MORE (D-R.I.), a member of the Judiciary Committee, which would handle articles of impeachment, said, "I think Mick Mulvaney has important information to share."

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffJan. 6 panel faces new test as first witness pleads the Fifth Jan. 6 panel releases contempt report on Trump DOJ official ahead of censure vote The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden to update Americans on omicron; Congress back MORE (D-Calif.) did not respond to reporters' questions Thursday about whether Mulvaney will be called to testify.

But Schiff warned that Mulvaney's public comments have made things "much, much worse."

"The fact that [acting] chief of staff Mulvaney, with his acknowledgement now that military aid to a vital ally, an ally battling Russia as we speak, was withheld in part out of desire by the president to have Ukraine investigate the DNC server or Democrats or 2016, things have just gone from very, very bad to much, much worse," Schiff said.

"The idea that vital military assistance would be withheld for such a patently political reason for the reason of serving the president's reelection campaign is a phenomenal breach of the president's duty to defend our national security and I hope that every member, Democrat and Republican, will speak out and condemn this illicit action by the president and his chief of staff," Schiff added.

While Mulvaney acknowledged that Trump had urged the Ukrainian government to investigate unsubstantiated allegations that Ukraine was involved in the DNC hack, he maintained that the military aid was not delayed because of a push to investigate former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenMan sentenced to nearly four years for running scam Trump, Biden PACs Dole in final column: 'Too many of us have sacrificed too much' Meadows says Trump's blood oxygen level was dangerously low when he had COVID-19 MORE and his son Hunter's business dealings.

“The money held up had absolutely nothing to do with Biden," Mulvaney said Thursday.

ADVERTISEMENT

A rough transcript of a July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky shows Trump raising the prospect of investigating the Bidens.

The House committees have subpoenaed Mulvaney for documents related to the July 25 call; the delay in Ukraine aid; the removal of Marie Yovanovitch as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine; communications with Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiRudy Giuliani becomes grandfather after son welcomes child Press: For Trump endorsement: The more sordid, the better Former NYC police commissioner to testify before Jan. 6 committee, demands apology MORE; and efforts by White House staff to restrict access to the transcript of the call between Trump and Zelensky, as alleged by the intelligence community whistleblower complaint that sparked the impeachment inquiry.

The White House has said it will refuse to comply with the investigation, citing the lack of a formal House vote to authorize the impeachment inquiry. But Democratic leaders decided earlier this week that a vote would be unnecessary.
Multiple witnesses have appeared before the House committees conducting the impeachment inquiry, including Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland on Thursday under subpoena.

Giuliani, Vice President Pence, Office of Management and Budget Acting Director Russell Vought and Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden to update Americans on omicron; Congress back Former defense secretary Esper sues Pentagon in memoir dispute Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by Boeing — Major Russia weapons test stokes tensions MORE all missed a Tuesday deadline for documents demanded by the committees. The request for documents from Pence was the only one not issued by a subpoena.

The defiance earlier this week makes it unlikely that Mulvaney will provide the subpoenaed documents to the House committees by Friday.

Rebecca Klar and Mike Lillis contributed.
 
Updated at 6:04 p.m.