Joseph Sabino Mistick: Mulvaney, Taylor, Trump & the truth
In the old “cops and robbers” movies of the film noir era, they would usually have to sweat a guy or beat him with a rubber hose to get him to confess the way Mick Mulvaney willingly confessed at a recent White House press briefing.
For weeks, Donald Trump had been claiming that he never withheld military aid intended for Ukraine in exchange for “dirt” on Joe Biden, Trump’s potential Democratic opponent. Trump repeatedly stated that he never demanded a quid pro quo.
But Mulvaney, Trump’s acting chief of staff, told a different story. Brushing Trump aside, Mulvaney not only admitted that there was a quid pro quo, he brazenly stated that those kinds of trade-offs happen all the time as part of Trump’s foreign policy.
And he told the gathered press to “get over it,” as if they were a bunch of dopes with no clue how the real world works.
Within two hours, after Mulvaney paid a visit to the Trump woodshed for admitting that his boss had committed an impeachable offense, he reappeared. And he has spent every day since then denying that he said what he said, struggling to will it not so, trying to get the world to un-hear it.
Then things only got worse for Mulvaney. A few days after his public acts of contrition began, Mulvaney discussed Trump’s reversal of his decision to hold the G-7 gathering at one his own resorts, Trump National Doral.
“At the end of the day he still considers himself to be in the hospitality business,” Mulvaney said, prompting more ridicule aimed at his boss.
For all the angst Mulvaney’s explanations caused him, each one was merely a political gaffe — which means that he inadvertently told the truth. Anyway, his actions would soon be footnotes in light of what happened next.
William B. Taylor Jr., a top diplomat to Ukraine during this time, stepped forward and told the truth intentionally, ignoring White House orders to ignore congressional subpoenas.
Taylor — West Point graduate, Vietnam infantry officer with the 101st Airborne Division, non-partisan State Department official under both Republican and Democratic administrations — was in the room for many of the critical events. He opposed Trump’s plan to require that Ukraine announce an investigation of Biden as a pre-condition to getting the military aid appropriated by Congress.
As he said in one text exchange with other top Trump administration officials in September, “I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.”
In addition to testifying that there was an explicit quid pro quo, Taylor described a shadow foreign policy run off the books by Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, all part of the plan to get Ukraine to “pay up” with political dirt before they got their military aid.
And it is Taylor and other career public servants like him who uphold the Constitution and defend American values. They may yet save the Republic.
Joseph Sabino Mistick is a Pittsburgh lawyer. Reach him at [email protected].