The impeachment inquiry that is now barreling toward its public phase is tearing two of President Trump’s senior aides apart.
According to a Bloomberg report Thursday, acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone are in disagreement over who should be put in charge of Trump’s impeachment inquiry response.
People familiar with the matter told Bloomberg that while Cipollone views impeachment as his forte due to its legal nature, Mulvaney argues that he should take the reins because he views impeachment as a more political matter and expects Cipollone to report to his office. The same sources added that Cipollone has privately vented to colleagues about Mulvaney’s attempt at taking charge.
Two sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity told Bloomberg that it’s not unusual for Cipollone and Mulvaney to argue, not just about impeachment, but also on judicial nominations and other issues. Mulvaney reportedly disagrees with Cipollone’s approach in offering guidance to White House staffers on their rights when hit by a House subpoena and how he’s supposedly failed to explicitly say whether they should testify in the first place.
Despite the lack of any impeachment war room, the Wall Street Journal reported last month that Trump gave his approval for regular calls between White House aides and some House Republicans to discuss a response strategy. On Wednesday, news broke that the White House is expected to hire former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and former Treasury Department spokesman Tony Salegh to handle communications related to the impeachment inquiry.
Bloomberg noted that while Cipollone enjoys the support of both Trump and senior adviser Jared Kushner, Mulvaney has struggled to get back into the President’s good graces following his messy attempt at cleaning up his quid pro quo admission of withholding aid to Ukraine during a press conference last month.
Last month, Mulvaney’s White House colleagues and prominent conservatives expressed their support for him after he admitted to having a “tough week” in the aftermath of that disastrous presser. Bloomberg also reported last month that Trump had been quietly mulling a Mulvaney replacement in the weeks leading up to the same presser.
On Tuesday, the House committees overseeing the impeachment inquiry requested deposition from Mulvaney, writing in a letter sent Tuesday that they believe the acting chief of staff has “first-hand knowledge” of Trump’s Ukraine pressure campaign.
Read Bloomberg’s report here.