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White House staffers ‘lying low’ and eyeing the exits as Trump faces impeachment: ‘Popping your head up leads to bad things’

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White House staffers are paralyzed by a leadership crisis as President Donald Trump faces impeachment.

The president has insisted on handling the response himself, and his strategy has changed on a day-to-day basis, which leaves staffers and chief of staff Mick Mulvaney unsure of their roles, reported Politico.

“Mick is lying low, but everyone is lying low,” a former senior administration official told the website. “White House aides are hoping the president deals with this himself, and everyone is trying to keep their heads down.”

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“Popping your head up will only lead to bad things,” that former official said. “It’s uncommon for a chief to do this as well, but Mick seems to be in the same shelter-in-place posture everyone is in.”

Current and former White House aides told Politico that Mulvaney’s job was safe because no one else would want to be chief of staff to a president facing impeachment, and because Mulvaney was too entangled in the Ukraine scandal to be forced out of the White House.

“This is the point in Trumpworld where they figure out who to blame,” said another former administration official.

Mulvaney has gained a reputation for letting the president do whatever he wants, but one expert on White House leadership said that indirectly led to the Ukraine scandal that threatens Trump’s presidency.

“The central question here is: Where is Mick Mulvaney?” said Chris Whipple, author of “The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency.” “He’s abdicated the most important duty as White House chief of staff, and that is telling the president what he doesn’t want to hear. And the most dramatic result of his ‘Let Trump be Trump’ posture is the Ukraine scandal. He should have thrown his body in front of that phone call.“

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Mulvaney and the White House press office declined to comment on the report, but one former official suggested the acting chief of staff may be eyeing an exit.

“Mick, in general, is someone who likes to keep his options open,” said a former White House official. “If his plan was to stay for a very long time, he would have pushed for a title change. If he got a real sense that the president wants somebody else, he‘s not going to fight that. He is in good standing with Trump right now, but this is a hard time for anybody. So, it wouldn‘t shock me if he‘s thinking about what he wants to do next.“

Mulvaney and other White House aides have largely kept low profiles and haven’t made appearances on TV to defend the president, a job that has been filled primarily by Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and the president himself.

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“Clearly the president wants to be the messenger here,” said one Mulvaney ally. “What difference does it make to have the chief of staff on TV?”

But Mulvaney’s absence on television has raised speculation that he has lost favor with Trump and might be plotting an exit.

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“The frustration I’ve heard is that they’re not really set up to fight this impeachment battle and he would normally be the one spearheading that effort on the inside since he’s chief of staff,” said one former White House official.


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Even the Republican witnesses make Donald Trump look like a depraved criminal

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The second half of Tuesday's hearing offered something new in the Donald Trump impeachment inquiry: Witnesses called by the Republican minority on the House Intelligence Committee. It's understandable why Republicans would want these two men.

One of them was Tim Morrison, a former National Security Council aide who is among the few people directly exposed to Trump's famous phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky who claims to believe there was nothing wrong with it. The other was Kurt Volker, a former special envoy to Ukraine, who appears to have been a major actor in Trump's extortion scheme in that country. Indeed, Volker was deemed one of the "three amigos" — along with Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Trump donor/EU ambassador Gordon Sondland — who Trump entrusted with Ukrainian relations as he exerted increasing pressure on the country's leaders to give into his extortion scheme.

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Impeachment: Trump’s ‘hearsay’ defense just crashed and burned

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In the panoply of contradictory and incoherent defenses of Donald Trump, a favorite of Republicans has been to harp on the claim that witnesses to Trump's extortion scheme against Ukraine were all "second-hand" or "third-hand." This has always been confounding, as the official summary readout of the famous phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky shows Trump clearly conditioning military aid and U.S. support on Zelensky giving a public boost to Trump's conspiracy theories about former Vice President Joe Biden and other Democratic leaders. The witnesses so far have simply affirmed what the written record demonstrates amply.

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WATCH: Dejected Devin Nunes slumps back in his chair after he fails to yield his time to Elise Stefanik

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The top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee was visibly frustrated after once again getting shut down while attempting a parliamentary maneuver.

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) has been attempting to ignore the rules governing the impeachment inquiry so that he can yield Republicans' time to fellow members of Congress, instead of just the professional GOP counsel.

Nunes has attempted to yield time to Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), who has been raising re-election funds off of her outbursts in the hearings.

Once again, Nunes attempted to yield his time to a fellow Republican and once again Nunes was told that is against the rules.

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