For the past several weeks Donald Trump has been adamantly denying that there was any quid pro quo in his conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Nevermind that the whistleblower’s complaint said there was, and that Trump’s “transcript” (executive summary) of the phone call corroborated that account. Trump insisted that the phone call was “prefect,” which is a bizarre way to describe it, as if it were being graded for criminal content.
On Thursday morning, though, Trump’s Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney, held a press conference to announce the astonishing decision by Trump to host the 2020 G7 summit meeting at his own Doral Miami golf resort. Even a Fox News political editor was shocked by this shameless and purposeful grifting. But more to the point, Mulvaney turned Trump’s denials of a quid pro quo on their head. Mulvaney was asked explicitly whether U.S. foreign aid was withheld from Ukraine pending their agreement to dig up dirt on Trump’s political opponents. And in a roundabout way he confessed that it was. That resulted in this exchange with ABC News Chief White House Correspondent, Jonathan Karl (video below):
Karl: To be clear, what you described is a quid pro quo. It is funding will not flow unless the investigation into the Democratic server happens as well.”
Mulvaney: “We do that all the time with foreign policy.” […]
Mulvaney: Get over it. There’s going to be political influence in foreign policy.
So there you have it. An outright admission that the Trump White House uses its power to extort foreign leaders in order to get them to perform purely political favors. And not only did Mulvaney admit it, he volunteered that they “do that all the time.” Mulvaney then tried to use another incident when funds were similarly withheld to justify the Ukraine affair. However, he noted that in that case the U.S. demands involved immigration issues, which can reasonably be argued are in our national interest.
The problem with Trump’s extortion of Ukraine was that the demands involved a smear campaign on one of his political opponents. That is most definitely not in the national interest. That’s strictly a personal interest of Trump’s and a violation of every ethical tenet of diplomacy. It’s also a violation of the law. And it does not – or should not – happen all the time.
With regard to the “server” mentioned in this exchange, it’s a reference to a Democratic National Committee computer that was hacked by Russians. Trump has adopted a ludicrous conspiracy theory that claims the server contains some incriminating secrets and was spirited away to Ukraine. Of course, there is no evidence of anything remotely resembling that nonsense. But it seems like Mulvaney was willing to grab onto it in order to avoid the more damaging allegation that Trump was seeking dirt on Joe Biden. In fact, that may be the real motive here.
It will be interesting to hear Trump’s response to this admission of a quid pro quo after all his ranting. Although he is so brazen in his dishonesty he might just continue to deny it. Or he could say Mulvaney never said this. Or, in pinch, he’ll claim that he doesn’t know Mulvaney at all, he was just a coffee boy.
UPDATE: Later in the day Mulvaney walked back his remarks and now says that he never said there was a quid pro quo. Of course, he DID say it, and it’s on video. If he wants to say he misspoke and offer a correction, that’s fine. But he can’t say he didn’t say it.
How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.
Mick Mulvaney on those "upset with the political influence in foreign policy": "I have news for everybody. Get over it. There's going to be political influence in foreign policy…Elections have consequences." https://t.co/0B7zSclqfq pic.twitter.com/BsnGAb3fl9
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) October 17, 2019