- President Donald Trump on Friday signalled acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney might not be long for his administration.
- When asked by the Washington Examiner if he’s happy with the job Mulvaney is doing, Trump said, “I don’t want to comment on it.”
- This came less than a month after Mulvaney induced a political firestorm by publicly confirming a quid pro quo involving US military aid to Ukraine and Trump’s request of Ukraine’s president to launch certain investigations.
- The quid pro quo and Trump’s urging of Ukraine to launch an inquiry into former Vice President Joe Biden, as well as a debunked investigation related to the 2016 election, are at the centre of an escalating impeachment inquiry.
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The Trump administration has seen record levels of turnover and it seems another top White House employee might soon be added to an already lengthy list of departures.
“Happy?” Trump replied. “I don’t want to comment on it.”
Mulvaney’s status in the administration has come under question ever since a mid-October press conference in which he publicly acknowledged a quid pro quo involving roughly $US400 million in military aid to Ukraine and Trump’s efforts to urge the Ukrainian president to launch an investigation into a conspiracy theory related to the 2016 election.
Mulvaney later tried to walk back his comments.
Trump froze the military aid to Ukraine, which had been approved by Congress, shortly before a July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that’s now at the centre of an impeachment inquiry into the president. On the call, Trump urged Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, while also pushing for him to launch an inquiry into the debunked conspiracy theory on the origins of the FBI’s Russia probe.
The July 25 call is at the heart of a whistleblower complaint from a US intelligence official that ultimately sparked the impeachment inquiry. The complaint has largely been corroborated by multiple witnesses in their testimony to House lawmakers.
Trump has furiously denied any wrongdoing amid the escalating Ukraine scandal. The House on Thursday voted to formalise the impeachment inquiry, signalling the process will take a more public phase in the coming weeks.
In the time since his quid pro quo acknowledgement, Mulvaney also catalyzed unflattering headlines in his defence of Trump’s move to hold the next G7 summit at one of his Florida properties, which sparked bipartisan uproar in Washington and led the president to scrap the idea. After Trump reversed course, Mulvaney defended him by stating the president “still considers himself to be in the hospitality business.”
Mulvaney was also reportedly kept out of the loop on a US military raid that ended with the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in late October, and was not in the Situation Room during the operation. It’s unusual for a White House chief of staff to be sidelined on such important matters, and this was widely viewed as a sign Mulvaney is on his way out.