‘Criminal and impeachable’: Watergate prosecutor says Mick Mulvaney damaged Trump with admission
Former general counsel of the US Army Jill Wine-Banks on MSNBC (screengrab)

White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney admitted to a "stunning" amount of wrongdoing during a Thursday briefing at the White House.

For analysis, "Deadline: White House" guest host John Heilemann interviewed former Watergate prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks.

"Jill Wine-Banks, we have seen this week the story this week has been kind of the story of all the president’s men being assembled," Heilemann said. "We’ve seen John Bolton put in the middle of this thing, although maybe on the right side of history. We’ve seen Rudy Giuliani’s role expanded. We’ve seen Mick Mulvaney -- who previously had no complicity in any of this -- suddenly go from being an outlying figure to being a central figure."

"And now we have Mick Mulvaney up there not just contradicting what the president has said but saying it’s legit for the White House to have done this thing that looks to most people like it’s unethical, potentially illegal all in the service of what everybody with half a brain recognizes is a nuthouse conspiracy theory -- just as crazy as can be," he continued.

"So as you sit there and think about the analogies we always ask you for, what does this mean to you what’s happened just now today and where does this investigation go from here?" Heilemann asked.

"Well, as a trial lawyer when the facts are against you, you argue the law. When the law is against you, you argue the facts. In this case, when both the facts and the law are against you, you just make up conspiracy theories," Wine-Banks replied. "And that seems to be what’s going on."

"Mulvaney really did some damage to the president. Rudy Giuliani is doing consistent damage to the president. And you don’t need a quid pro quo, but if you did, there is one," she noted.

"Let’s not say quid pro quo. Let’s say shakedown. That’s what this is. There was a shakedown for personal political benefit," she explained. "There was a withholding of something Congress had approved funding that was necessary."

"And again we come back to Russia. It was for protection against Russia. So everything seems to relate back to Putin and Russia. And by withholding the money he was trying to get support for making up evidence that there is none that anybody knows of to support a ridiculous, as you have called it, conspiracy theory. And that is both criminal and impeachable," Wine-Banks concluded.