You’d barely know, from the reaction of congressional Republicans, that White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney had publicly confirmed a central question of House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry on national television.
Mulvaney said in a press conference Thursday that the White House had withheld military funds appropriated by Congress for Ukraine over Donald Trump’s insistence that Ukraine investigate a conspiracy theory about Democrats and the 2016 election.
The strongest Republican voice in reaction to Mulvaney was Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).
“You don’t hold up foreign aid that we had previously appropriated for a political initiative, period,” Murkowski told reporters, calling the news of Mulvaney’s comment “absolutely a concern.”
Rep. Francis Rooney (R-FL) told CNN Thursday that Mulvaney’s comments acknowledging the White House had withheld aid were “troubling.” The congressman, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, ran for Congress in 2016 as a business-savvy Trump supporter, advertising his support for Trump’s border wall.
In an interview on-air Friday, Rooney told CNN that Mulvaney had made the issue “clear.”
“Whatever might have been gray and unclear before is certainly quite clear right now, that the actions were related to getting the Ukraine to do some of these things,” he said. Rooney said Murkowski had framed the issue perfectly: “We’re not supposed to use government power and prestige for political gain.”
Rooney wouldn’t rule out supporting impeachment.
“The only unknown would be if this is so grave and serious that it rises to the level of impeachment,” he said. “I don’t think this is as much as Richard Nixon did, but I’m very mindful of the fact that back during Watergate, everybody said, ‘Oh, it’s a witch hunt to get Nixon.’ Turns out it wasn’t a witch hunt, it was absolutely correct.”
“So I just want to make sure that I get all the data I can get,” he said. “And I’m talking to everybody I can talk to to understand all this.
Notable @PoppyHarlowCNN interview with Rep. Francis Rooney (R-FL). He ran campaign ads on building a "big" border wall and ending sanctuary cities. But he won't rule out impeachment after yesterday.
"We’re not supposed to use government power and prestige for political gain." pic.twitter.com/LFTZkWEy7L
— Matt Shuham (@mattshuham) October 18, 2019
Appearing on CNN earlier Friday, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), a sometimes-critic of the administration’s handling of the impeachment inquiry, also expressed alarm about Mulvaney’s remarks.
“It’s quite concerning and I think we’re going to get more information as we’re seeing this happen rapidly,” he said.
But Kinzinger said the comments has not lead him to support impeachment. He said he needed more information.
“I have no idea why he said what he said,” Kinzinger said of Mulvaney, noting that the chief of staff had attempted to take back his comments after making them. “Was he talking about just general corruption, or was he talking specifically about the Biden issue?”
“It depends what the purpose is on it,” he added. “So, a lot of concern in all of this. I think we’re going to hear a lot more probably very soon.”