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Mick Mulvaney makes bogus claim to avoid testifying as witnesses point to his central role in Trump’s quid pro quo

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Hours after Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney claimed “absolute immunity” from cooperating with the House impeachment probe into President Donald Trump, Democrats leading the inquiry released sworn testimony from two key witnesses who placed the chief of staff at the center of President Donald Trump’s effort to pressure Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden.

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Fiona Hill, Trump’s former top Russia adviser, told House impeachment investigators last month about a July 10 meeting in which U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland “blurted out” Mulvaney’s role in arranging a White House visit for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“Mulvaney personally ordered the hold on Ukraine aid. His refusal to come forward and tell Congress why he did that is utterly damning.”
—Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.)

“Well, we have an agreement with the chief of staff for a meeting if these investigations in the energy sector start,” Sondland said, according to Hill. Sondland was apparently referring to Burisma, a natural gas company that used to employ Hunter Biden, the former vice president’s son.

Then-national security adviser John Bolton “immediately stiffened and ended the meeting” after Sondland’s remarks, Hill told House Committees.

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a National Security Council official who listened to Trump’s July 25 phone call with Zelensky, corroborated Hill’s account of the White House meeting, which was attended by Ukrainian officials and Trump advisers.

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“Sondland relatively quickly went into outlining how the—you know, these investigations need to—on the deliverable for these investigations in order to secure this meeting [between Trump and Zelensky],” Vindman said. “I heard him say that this had been coordinated with White House Chief of Staff Mr. Mick Mulvaney.”

Erin Banco, national security reporter for The Daily Beastreported that Hill and Vindman’s testimonies “mark the most direct link between the scandal now imperiling the presidency and the president’s chief of staff.”

The depositions were made public just hours after Mulvaney refused to comply with a subpoena to testify as part of House Democrats’ impeachment probe.

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The acting chief of staff reportedly informed House committees “one minute before” his deposition was scheduled to begin that he would not show up and asserted “absolute immunity.”

Legal analysts on Friday swiftly called into question the legal basis for Mulvaney’s “absolute immunity claim”:

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Mulvaney, who previously ran the Office of Management and Budget, became a focus of House Democrats’ investigation after the Washington Post reported in September that he put a hold on $400 million of appropriated Ukraine aid on instructions from Trump. During a press briefing last month, Mulvaney admitted the aid was withheld to pressure Ukraine to launch investigations on behalf of Trump.

Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) tweeted Friday that it is “hard to imagine something more suspicious and damaging than the White House’s own chief of staff afraid to tell the truth under oath.”

“Mulvaney personally ordered the hold on Ukraine aid,” said Beyer. “His refusal to come forward and tell Congress why he did that is utterly damning.”

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Donald Trump sounds like a complete lunatic because he’s isolated himself in a far-right media bubble

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Welcome to another edition of What Fresh Hell?, Raw Story’s roundup of news items that might have become controversies under another regime, but got buried – or were at least under-appreciated – due to the daily firehose of political pratfalls, unhinged tweet storms and other sundry embarrassments coming out of the current White House.

If you have an older relative who spends way too much time stewing in the conservative media, you may have experienced a moment when you not only disagreed with him, but you realized that you had no earthly clue what he was going on about. Perhaps it was when he started talking about the UN plot to eliminate golf courses and replace paved roads with bicycle paths. Maybe he stopped you in your tracks with a discourse on why flies were attracted to Barack Obama, or complained about the government insisting on referring to Christians as "Easter-worshippers" or expressed outrage over 9/11 hijackers being given leniency by Muslim jurists.

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Trump’s claim impeachment ‘nullifies’ 2016 election blown up in new House Judiciary Committee report

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On Saturday, the House Judiciary Committee released their report outlining the offenses committed by President Donald Trump, and the legal framework for impeachment — which clears the way for Congress to write and approve articles of impeachment against him.

One of the key issues examined by the report is the claim, repeatedly made by the president and his supporters, that impeachment would "nullify" the 2016 presidential election and the popular will — which is already a weak claim given that Trump never won the popular vote, and that impeaching Trump would still install Mike Pence as president. But the report more broadly rejects the entire claim that an election result immunizes a president from punishment for official misconduct.

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READ IT: House Judiciary Committee releases report defining Trump impeachable offenses

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On Saturday, the House Judiciary Committee released a report outlining the impeachable acts committed by President Donald Trump.

"Our President holds the ultimate public trust," said the report, titled "Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment," in its introduction. "A President faithful only to himself—who will sell out democracy and national security for his own personal advantage—is a danger to every American. Indeed, he threatens America itself."

The report clarifies the procedures for impeachment, analyzes whether president can be "impeached for abuse of executive powers," and "whether it is preferable to await the next election when a President has sought to corrupt that very same election."

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