Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney refused to comply with the closed-door subpoena amid a House impeachment inquiry, according to an official who is working on the inquiry, reported The Associated Press and other news outlets on Friday.
The official, who was anonymous, told reporters from several news outlets that “one minute before his scheduled deposition was to start, Mr. Mulvaney’s outside counsel informed us that his client had been directed by the White House not to comply with the duly authorized subpoena and asserted ‘absolute immunity.”
On Tuesday, the three Democrat-led House committees overseeing the probe sent a letter to Mulvaney asking him to appear for a closed-door deposition on Friday.
“Based on evidence gathered in the impeachment inquiry and public reporting, we believe that you possess substantial first-hand knowledge and information relevant to the House’s impeachment inquiry,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif), House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), and acting House Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) said in a joint letter (pdf).
Their letter reads, “Specifically, the investigation has revealed that you may have been directly involved in an effort orchestrated by President Trump, his personal agent, Rudolph Giuliani, and others to withhold a coveted White House meeting and nearly $400 million in security assistance, in order to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to pursue investigations that would benefit President Trump’s personal political interests, and jeopardized our national security in attempting to do so.”
The House Democrats also warned that if Mulvaney doesn’t show up for depositions, they might use that against Trump in the impeachment inquiry.
The letter cited an Oct. 17 press conference in which Mulvaney was asked about whether the United States held back aid to Ukraine.
“President Trump … doesn’t like spending money overseas, especially when it’s poorly spent. That is exactly what drove this decision. I’ve been in the office a couple of times with him talking about this. He said, ‘Look, Mick, this is a corrupt place,’” Mulvaney had told reporters at the time.
The inquiry is centered on whether Trump held military aid to Ukraine to exert pressure on Kyiv to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. Trump has frequently denied the claims.
Speaking to reporters on Friday, President Trump said he would like to see Mulvaney testify in the public phase of the House-led impeachment inquiry.
“I’d love to have him go up,” he said, reported AP, adding that he doesn’t want to validate an unfair process.
“I don’t want to give credibility to a corrupt witch hunt,” Trump told AP.