Democrats want Mulvaney to testify in Trump impeachment probe

House Democrats want to hear testimony from acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyOne year in, Democrats frustrated by fight for Trump tax returns Meadows joins White House in crisis mode Meadows resigns from Congress, heads to White House 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 John TrumpOvernight Health Care: US hits 10,000 coronavirus deaths | Trump touts 'friendly' talk with Biden on response | Trump dismisses report on hospital shortages as 'just wrong' | Cuomo sees possible signs of curve flattening in NY We need to be 'One America,' the polling says — and the politicians should listen Barr tells prosecutors to consider coronavirus risk when determining bail: report 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.

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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 ConnollyOPM chief abruptly resigns The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the APTA - Biden looks for Super Tuesday surge; coronavirus fears heighten 'Liberated' Pelosi bashes Trump — and woos Democratic base 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 LynchMA lawmakers press HHS secretary on status of state's protective equipment Democrats press World Bank chief on meeting with Ukrainian president amid Trump pressure Biden leads 2020 pack in congressional endorsements 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 Nicola CicillineLocal news outlets struggle to survive coronavirus fallout The Hill's 12:30 Report: House to vote on .2T stimulus after mad dash to Washington Pelosi rejects calls to shutter Capitol: 'We are the captains of this ship' 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 SchiffDemocrats struggle to keep up with Trump messaging on coronavirus Trump defends firing of intel watchdog, calling him a 'disgrace' Democrats seize on Trump's firing of intelligence community watchdog 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 BidenOvernight Health Care: US hits 10,000 coronavirus deaths | Trump touts 'friendly' talk with Biden on response | Trump dismisses report on hospital shortages as 'just wrong' | Cuomo sees possible signs of curve flattening in NY We need to be 'One America,' the polling says — and the politicians should listen 16 things to know today about coronavirus MORE and his son Hunter's business dealings.

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

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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 GiulianiGiuliani touts experimental coronavirus treatment in private conversations with Trump Trump team picks fight with Twitter, TV networks over political speech Sunday shows preview: As coronavirus spreads in the U.S., officials from each sector of public life weigh in 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 courage of navy captain Brett Crozier Democratic lawmakers call for Navy chief's firing Acting Navy secretary slams fired aircraft carrier captain as 'stupid' in remarks to crew: report 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.