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 MulvaneyMick MulvaneyMeadows joins White House in crisis mode Meadows resigns from Congress, heads to White House Meadows set to resign from Congress as he moves to White House MORE will be the key to explaining just how closely involved President TrumpDonald John TrumpIllinois governor says state has gotten 10 percent of medical equipments it's requested Biden leads Trump by 6 points in national poll Tesla offers ventilators free of cost to hospitals, Musk says MORE was to the effort led by his personal lawyer, Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiHillicon Valley: FCC chief proposes 0M telehealth program | Twitter takes down posts promoting anti-malaria drugs for coronavirus| Whole Foods workers plan Tuesday strike 12 things to know today about coronavirus Twitter takes down posts promoting anti-malaria treatment for coronavirus MORE, to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden leads Trump by 6 points in national poll The Memo: Political world grapples with long coronavirus shutdown The Hill's Campaign Report: North Carolina emerges as key battleground for Senate control 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 DurbinSenator Tom Coburn's government oversight legacy Democratic lawmakers demand government stop deporting unaccompanied children Legal immigrants at risk of losing status during coronavirus pandemic 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 Bolton Trump ignores science at our peril Bolton defends decision to shutter NSC pandemic office US retaliates with missile strikes in Iraq 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 SondlandWhite House withdraws nomination for Pentagon budget chief who questioned Ukraine aid hold Juan Williams: Will the GOP ever curb Trump? House wants documents on McEntee's security clearances 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 SchumerMcConnell launches ad touting role in passing coronavirus relief Joe Biden can't lead the charge from his home in Delaware Texas man arrested for allegedly threatening Democrats over coronavirus bill 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 SchiffCoronavirus pushes GOP's Biden-Burisma probe to back burner Texas man arrested for allegedly threatening Democrats over coronavirus bill Schiff: Remote voting would not compromise national security 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.