Trumps position of ‘No quid quo pro’ took a turn for the worse when Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney came forward and told reporters that this kind of thing happens all the time. This lead me to believe that the statements made by the Acting Chief of staff deserve a little more dissection. Leverage is usually used in a business context, a word we all assume Trump – as well as many others – have used. While the term itself doesn’t point to any misconduct, context has become a focal point for the White House, as the leverage pertained to the Servers of Hillary Clinton and performing intelligence operations on US officials. Recently the State Department determined 38 people to have committed security violations, it said investigators had found “no persuasive evidence of systemic, deliberate mishandling of classified information.” However, it also made clear that Clinton’s use of the private email had increased the vulnerability”. Another statement that while small, seems to hold a lot more weight now that we are coming into the 2020 election. By the State Department finding little more than ‘misconduct’ it does little to support Trumps claims into the 2016 election or add to the defense of the Ukraine call.
To draw a parallel with Mulvaney it is important that the phone call to Ukraine be taken into the same ‘context’. Leverage of withholding money to Ukraine, could be agreed upon in many ‘contexts’ – had Ukraine not honored a trade agreement – made political moves we saw to be in violation or to in danger American lives – disagreed with Ukraine trading with a sanctioned country – release of hostages etc. The United States has a long history of using leverage to get things done in the world, in context most of these things are not a threat to National Security. By telling another country to investigate an elected United States politician, you’re offering a back door into U.S. policy. I use this comparison all the time but many know that you can go onto the FBI website and read redacted information that has been deemed ‘ok’ by U.S. officials. The problem arises when other governments have transcripts of deals, leverage, or agreements – most importantly when those agreements give a green light to a country to perform its own intelligence operations into U.S. politicians.
As Trumps staff try to figure out how to spin Mulvaneys comments, it is important to note that at the beginning of October a federal judge ruled that 8 years of trumps tax returns to be handed over. His lawyers quickly appealed to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan, which agreed to temporarily delay enforcement of the subpoena while it considers arguments in the case. As the amount of subpoenas for information continue to stack on the desks of Trump lawyers more and more miscommunication seems to be stemming from the White House and not even his Chief of Staff seems to be on the same page.