WASHINGTON — Even John Bolton’s lawyer thinks Mick Mulvaney’s press conference was a raging disaster — and wants nothing to do with him.
Mulvaney’s public admission of the quid pro quo at the heart of Democrats’ impeachment case against President Trump should disqualify Mulvaney from joining a lawsuit aimed at determining whether top officials should testify before Congress, a lawyer for Bolton, Trump’s former National Security Advisor, wrote in a legal filing on Monday.
That grim assessment of the infamous Oct 17 press conference by Trump's acting chief of staff reveals a new public dispute between him and Bolton. Mulvaney has insisted he never admitted to a quid pro quo, moments after he pretty much said precisely that on national television before the assembled White House press corps.
“Mulvaney has publicly discussed the events at issue in the House’s impeachment inquiry, including appearing to admit that there was a quid pro quo relationship between the President’s decision to withhold appropriated financial assistance from Ukraine and a Ukrainian investigation into what happened to a Democratic server in 2016 (an admission he subsequently sought to disavow),” Bolton’s attorney Charles Cooper wrote.
Cooper, who also represents Bolton’s former deputy Charles Kupperman, asked the judge to block Mulvaney from joining Kupperman’s lawsuit, which seeks a judgement on whether Kupperman should respond to a Congressional subpoena for his testimony or whether he (and presumably, Bolton) should observe a White House ban on cooperating on impeachment.
The White House has insisted that Mulvaney and other top officials enjoy “absolute immunity” from testifying before Congress in the impeachment investigation.
Bolton’s lawyer that Mulvaney’s face-plant of a press conference undermined that claim, because it means he’s already spoken out publicly about the issue.
As a result, “there is a serious question as to whether Mulvaney waived the absolute testimonial immunity claimed by the President,” Cooper wrote.
Democrats have dropped their subpoena for Kupperman, and declined to subpoena Bolton, saying they don’t want their impeachment inquiry to be delayed by a lengthy court battle. But the judge in the case still hasn’t let it drop, and oral arguments are scheduled to take place on December 10.
Cover: National Security Adviser John Bolton, pictured, attends a meeting with President Donald Trump and Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the Hotel du Palais on the sidelines of the G-7 summit in Biarritz, France, Sunday, Aug. 25, 2019. Also pictured is President Donald Trump's White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, left, and President Donald Trump's acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, right. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)