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The Irony Of The GOP Mocking Witnesses Who Didn't Speak Directly To Trump

Multiple GOP committee members asked the witnesses — Bill Taylor, a career diplomat in charge of the Kyiv embassy, and George Kent, a top State Department official — if they ever were in direct contact with Trump.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) also made a fuss over Taylor claims that about Trump conversations that came from second-hand or even third-hand intermediaries.

White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham got into the action from afar.

But the lack of Democratic witnesses with direct contact with Trump isn’t from a lack of trying. The House Intelligence Committee unsuccessfully sought the testimony of witnesses who may have discussed with Trump himself what he was demanding of Ukraine and why he was withholding military assistance.

The Democratic effort included a subpoena of White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, who was described by other witnesses as someone who was part of the “drug deal” that was being pushed in Ukraine.

Ironically, it’s because Mulvaney was a top Trump adviser with direct contact with the President that the White House has claimed he has “absolute” immunity from providing testimony in the probe.

The White House has pointed to a Justice Department memo to justify its directive that Mulvaney, as well as well other witnesses whose testimony House Democrats have sought, need not comply with congressional demands.

“Mr. Mulvaney meets with and advises the President on a daily basis about the most sensitive issues confronting the government,” the DOJ memo, sent to the White House last week, said. “Thus, he readily qualifies as an ‘immediate adviser’ who may not be compelled to testify before Congress.”

Whether the White House is right about this “absolute” immunity is about to be tested in a court. A judge is considering a lawsuit brought by another White House advisor who received the “absolute immunity” instruction not to testify from Trump and is seeking the court’s guidance on whether that claim overrides a congressional subpoena.

Mulvaney sought to join the lawsuit, but backed off after he was told he’d have to file a separate complaint of his own.

Democrats have made clear in both public remarks and in court filings that they’re not going to wait for the issue to be litigated to move on with their impeachment proceedings.

But for now they’ll point out that — apparently, like Republicans — they’d be interested in hearing about what the President himself had to say.

“I’d be glad to have the person who started it all come in and testify,” Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) said at the hearing Wednesday. “President Trump is welcome to take a seat right there.”

 

About The Author

Tierney_profile2019

Tierney Sneed is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked for U.S. News and World Report. She grew up in Florida and attended Georgetown University.