, 18 tweets, 3 min read
1/ I just watched the *amazing* Mulvaney press conference. It was an extraordinarily weak and damning performance. I think he set out to deny a quid pro quo w Ukraine but he tied himself in knots and strongly suggested there was one. But that was not the only problem.
2/ I was watching try to figure out how what he said about the reasons for delay in releasing the Ukraine funds, to see whether the reasons were consistent with OMB’s legal obligations, as outlined in this post yesterday. lawfareblog.com/role-omb-withh…
3/ At first glance it does not appear that the reasons he gave for the delay are consistent with OMB’s obligations to release money under the relevant statutes discussed in yesterday’s post. More on that when I figure it out.
4/ But what really stunned me was how Mulvaney damaged the ongoing Barr/Durham investigation into the origins of the 2016 investigation of the Trump campaign.
5/ This investigation, if conducted properly, is entirely legitimate. Durham was a credible choice, though Barr damaged the investigation when he appeared to slyly prejudge it. lawfareblog.com/good-bad-and-u….
6/ The investigation’s credibility was damaged much more by Trump’s infamous call with the Ukrainian president Zelensky, whom Trump encouraged to contact Barr. This made it appear that Barr and his investigation were tied to Trump’s problematic Ukraine machinations.
7/ DOJ said at the time that Trump had not spoken with Barr about Ukraine or the Bidens It also said that Barr has not communicated with Ukraine. talkingpointsmemo.com/news/barr-deni…
8/ But Mulvaney brought it up again today. “There’s an ongoing [DOJ] investigation byinto the 2016 election. So you’re saying that the President … cannot ask somebody to cooperate with an ongoing public investigation into wrongdoing.”
9/ Two problems with this. First, Barr has stated that he is not looking at Ukraine, probably because the Ukraine link has been entirely discredited. Second, no evidence yet of wrongdoing. The explanation given by Mulvaney is thus baloney.
10/ Mulvaney doubled down later in the presser when he said that one of three justifications for the delay in the funds was “whether or not [Ukraine was] cooperating with in an ongoing investigation with our Department of Justice.” Again, obvious baloney.
11/ And DOJ called him on the baloney. “If the White House was withholding aid in regards to the cooperation of any investigation at the Department of Justice, that is news to us,” a DOJ official said. cbsnews.com/live-news/trum…
12/ DOJ officials were reportedly “utterly confused” and “angry.” I’m sure they were that, and much more.
13/ The lack of coordination between WH and DOJ and such a hugely important issue touching on impeachment, and Mulvaney’s predictably self-defeating statements, are stunning.
14/ DOJ now has a big problem. Barr is already under fire—with some justification, but also with some overstatement, in my view—for the manner in which he is conducting the review into the opening of the 2016 investigation.
15/ But now his Department—which determined that the president’s phone call with Zelensky did not implicate a crime—is stained by the president’s effort’s to cloak itself in the legitimacy of the Durham/Barr investigation.
16/ I believe that DOJ has to do much more than release one-sentence distancing denials, followed by unattributed expressions of anger.
17/ Barr or Durham needs to say--at a podium or in an attributed statement--that they lack any interest in Ukraine and reject POTUS's efforts to cloak his increasingly problematic Ukraine machinations in their investigation. Otherwise investigation is hopelessly compromised.
18/ There were other problems with the presser, but that is enough for now.
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