Curious indeed. Yesterday, House Democrats poo-poohed the idea of going through the subpoena process to get John Bolton’s testimony, claiming that they didn’t want to play Donald Trump’s delaying game. Overnight, however, NBC News reports that they now have subpoenaed Mick Mulvaney, even though it’s clear he won’t show without a court order either:
The House Intelligence Committee has subpoenaed acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to testify Friday as part of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, an official working on the probe told NBC News.
Mulvaney, one of the highest-ranking officials subpoenaed in the inquiry to date, is expected to be a no-show, falling in line with several other officials who were ordered by the president not to cooperate with the investigation.
There’s no mystery as to why House Democrats want Mulvaney’s testimony under oath on Ukraine-Gate. The multi-hatted Trump ally shot off his mouth about Ukraine and quid pro quos almost a month ago, telling everyone to “get over it” before walking it back later in the day. They want Mulvaney to repeat his public statement under oath to get to their impeachable act, and Mulvaney and the White House would prefer, let’s say, that they don’t get that chance.
But why bother with a subpoena now? House Democrats made it clear yesterday that they won’t take the time to defend subpoenas in court, claiming that Trump was using executive privilege claims as “obstruction.” That argument implies that Bolton, who got fired by Trump in an acrimonious and public feud, is somehow coordinating with Trump on that alleged scheme. If that’s the case and if that’s the reason, though, why bother subpoenaing Mulvaney at this late stage, who’s so #MAGA that he’s doing three jobs or more simultaneously for Trump?
It’s almost inexplicable, except to add it to House Democrats’ upcoming obstruction article in their impeachment bill. Mulvaney’s claim on executive privilege over a public statement might be weak, but it’s not non-existent. It’s a judicable claim even if the White House might end up losing the argument in the end, and the Trump administration is just as likely to fight it out to the end of the string as they were with Bolton. Maybe more so.
It could also be that House Democrats, looking at the depositions they’ve already taken from Fiona Hill and Tim Morrison, probably realize that Bolton won’t have anything to add to the quid pro quo argument. Mulvaney actually might but they don’t have any time left to force his testimony. All that leaves Adam Schiff & Co is to put Mulvaney’s subpoena and refusal on the record for show while they rush to their artificial deadline based on their own electoral-calendar needs. It’s all just end-game posturing at this point.