Democrats see Mulvaney as smoking gun witness at Trump trial

Democrats see Mulvaney as smoking gun witness at Trump trial
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Democrats say acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyTrump declares war on hardworking Americans with new budget request Scaramucci thanks John Kelly for speaking up against Trump Trump lashes out over Kelly criticism: 'He misses the action' MORE will be the key to explaining just how closely involved President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump administration eyes proposal to block jet engine sales to China: report Trump takes track to open Daytona 500 Brazile 'extremely dismayed' by Bloomberg record MORE was to the effort led by his personal lawyer, Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiSunday shows - Spotlight shines on Bloomberg, stop and frisk Giuliani hits Bloomberg on stop-and-frisk: He's 'turned on the program' Donald Trump: Unrepentant, on the attack and still playing the victim MORE, to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenDemocrats redefine center as theirs collapses Speculation swirls around whether Bloomberg will make Las Vegas debate stage Pelosi: 'I'm not counting Joe Biden out' MORE.

One of the biggest weaknesses of the House managers' case is that they cannot point to firsthand testimony that Trump directed his subordinates to withhold military aid to use as a bargaining chip with Ukraine in exchange for a probe of Biden and his son. But Democrats believe Mulvaney was privy to the most essential conversations.

“I think Mulvaney knows way more than most people estimate,” said Senate Minority Whip Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinThe Hill's Morning Report — AG Barr, GOP senators try to rein Trump in The Hill's Morning Report - Sanders surge triggers Dem angst As many as eight GOP senators expected to vote to curb Trump's power to attack Iran MORE (D-Ill.).

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Durbin added that he sees Mulvaney as a more important witness than former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonTrump unleashed: President moves with a free hand post-impeachment Barr back on the hot seat The Hill's Morning Report — AG Barr, GOP senators try to rein Trump in MORE, who has said he is willing to testify at the Senate trial.

Democrats say the centrality of Mulvaney to the case against Trump was made plain Saturday by Trump’s own lawyers, who attacked the House managers for not having a witness to directly link Trump to the pressure campaign against Ukraine.

Democratic senators point to Mulvaney’s Oct. 17 press conference where he admitted that the Trump administration had political reasons for withholding aid to Ukraine.

“I have news for everybody. Get over it. There’s going to be political influence in foreign policy,” Mulvaney declared in a statement that the House managers have played repeatedly on video during the trial.

White House deputy counsel Mike Purpura homed in on the testimony of U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon SondlandGordon SondlandTrump unleashed: President moves with a free hand post-impeachment Donald Trump: Unrepentant, on the attack and still playing the victim McCabe: 'I don't think I will ever be free of this president and his maniacal rage' MORE’s admission that he presumed Trump was behind the pressure campaign.

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Purpura argued Saturday that all Democrats have to support the “alleged link between the security assistance and investigations” were “Sondland’s assumptions and presumptions.”

After Trump’s lawyers rested their arguments for the day, Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerBarr to testify before House Judiciary panel Graham won't call Barr to testify over Roger Stone sentencing recommendation Roger Stone witness alleges Trump targeted prosecutors in 'vile smear job' MORE (D-N.Y.) said Mulvaney could certainly fill in missing details that even other requested witnesses, such as Bolton, may or may not know.

“There are people who have eyewitness accounts, the very four witnesses and the very four sets of documents that we have asked for,” Schumer said. “They made the argument that no one really knows what the president intended, but there are people who do know. Mick Mulvaney knows.”

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffDemocrats fear rule of law crumbling under Trump DOJ lawyers resign en masse over Roger Stone sentencing George Conway: We might have to impeach Trump again MORE (D-Calif.), the lead House impeachment manager, pounced on the conspicuous omission of any mention of Mulvaney in Trump’s lawyers’ opening argument.

“One last thing that really stood out to me and that was something that wasn’t said. It was a name in fact that was never mentioned and that is Mick Mulvaney. There is no mention of the chief of staff,” Schiff said.

“What about Mulvaney?” he added. “When they say no witnesses could directly put words in the president’s mouth — well, first of all Gordon Sondland did — but what about Mick Mulvaney, who admitted in a press conference just like this, ‘Of course we did. It happens all the time. Get over it.’ "

“Why did they make no mention of Mick Mulvaney? Why would they have you look away from the fact that the president’s own chief of staff has admitted to the most pernicious part of this scheme, which is the withholding of military aid to get Ukraine to do these investigations?" he concluded.