President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive landmark moments of testimony to Congress Lindsey Graham basks in the impeachment spotlight Democrats sharpen their message on impeachment MORE has reportedly been threatening to fire acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyMulvaney to file separate suit to fight impeachment subpoena Trump circuit court nominee in jeopardy amid GOP opposition White House struggles to get in sync on impeachment MORE for weeks over recent missteps amid the House’s impeachment investigation.
Three people familiar with the discussions told The Washington Post that the president has griped about Mulvaney’s appearance at an Oct. 17 press conference in which he admitted military aid to Ukraine was withheld to pressure Kyiv to launch investigations into 2016 election meddling and former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenFive landmark moments of testimony to Congress Democrats sharpen their message on impeachment Biden: ‘I’m more of a Democrat from my shoe sole to my ears’ than anyone else running MORE, a chief political rival of Trump’s. He later backtracked, clarifying that there was “absolutely no quid pro quo.”
Senior aides have reportedly advised that firing Mulvaney at such a pivotal moment during the House’s impeachment inquiry could be risky, particularly given Mulvaney’s role in the decision to temporarily freeze the aid and the chaos that would ensue in trying to find a replacement for him.
“I don’t think you’ll see him going anywhere until after December,” one Trump adviser told The Post. “But the president was very unhappy with that press conference. That was a very bad day for the president.”
Mulvaney was in direct communication with Trump about the president’s desire to hold $400 million in military aid to Ukraine as the White House was pressuring Kyiv to launch investigations that would be politically beneficial to the president.
Advisers have cited the dismissal of former National Security Adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonTop diplomat said request for specific probes in Ukraine was ‘contrary’ to US policy White House struggles to get in sync on impeachment House Democrats, ex-Bolton aide ask judge to block Mulvaney from joining lawsuit MORE, who was dismissed in September and is now a top target for Democrats for testimony.
“Trump is back asking everyone what they think about Mulvaney,” said one senior U.S. official. “He clearly is upset with him. He’s being advised that the last thing he needs is another major personnel move.”
Mulvaney’s standing in the White House has been under renewed scrutiny when he reversed plans to file a lawsuit asking a federal court to rule on if he should comply with a House subpoena for his testimony, saying instead he would follow the White House’s order to not cooperate with the impeachment probe.