In general, Giuliani rolled around Ukraine like the less-attractive form of wrecking ball and was hated by everyone, in every position, in both governments. But the problem with lining up the bus this way is that the only reason Giuliani was allowed to do such damage, is that everyone knew he had the backing of Trump.
Finding enough space between Trump and Giuliani to pretend that one was operating without the full knowledge and cooperation of the other may be difficult, but Republicans are sure they can do it. And since there’s barely a page of deposition that doesn’t contain a complaint about Giuliani’s constant ass-hat-ery, it won’t be hard to find reasons he should be pitched.
But if the public is unwilling to let Trump slide with just the ritual sacrifice of an ambassador and a personal attorney, Republicans have a step three to the meat barrier plan. The final sacrificial victim is acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.
There are plenty of good reasons to go after Mulvaney, who refused to appear before the inquiry in response to a congressional subpoena on Friday. It was Mulvaney who pulled together Sondland, special envoy Kurt Volker, and former Energy Secretary Rick Perry to form what he tagged the “three amigos” and charged them with seeing that Trump’s will be done before Ukraine got the aid and support that was due to them. Mulvaney seems to have kept his hand in and eye on this team as they bludgeoned their way toward forcing Ukraine into investigations of things everyone knew were ridiculous. And Mulvaney’s other role as director of the Office of Management and Budget means his fingerprints were also all over the non-issue of the military assistance funds. In fact, it was someone from Mulvaney’s office who finally let everyone else in the government know that, yep, Trump had put a hold on the money.
But Mick Mulvaney’s most unforgivable sin as far as the Republicans are concerned is that he apparently thinks he’s Trump. As in Mulvaney believes he can admit crimes in public and just shrug it off. Appearing before Congress in October, Mulvaney ‘fessed up that assistance to Ukraine was held until the government there announced the investigations Trump wanted. "That's why we held up the money," said Mulvaney. Then he capped it off with, “Get over it. There’s going to be political influence in foreign policy.” That right there is one of the things Republicans are never going to forgive: telling the truth.
In the evolving storyline Republicans are preparing, Sondland misread his cues and tried to force Ukraine into something Trump really wasn’t demanding. And if that’s not good enough, Giuliani was running around making all kinds of statements and it was really rogue Rudy who was responsible for all the problems. And if that’s not good enough, Mulvaney was trying to make things happen, but he never really filled Trump in on the details.
Sondland. Giuliani. Mulvaney. In that order. Those are the names Republicans in the House are willing to burn in order to protect Trump. Or at least, those are the names so far. There’s always more room on the list.
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