Speaking with George Stephanopoulos on ABC this weekend, Representative Matt Gaetz—one of President Donald Trump’s most relentlessly enthusiastic congressional supporters—had an unexpected suggestion for how the president should proceed in the impeachment inquiry. Mick Mulvaney, the director of the Office of Management and Budget and acting White House chief of staff, should testify before Congress, Gaetz argued—along with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and perhaps even the president’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. All three men have so far refused to cooperate with House requests for information. But, said Gaetz, “I think it would inure to the president’s advantage to have people testify who could exculpate him.”
This is the kind of thing one can say only if one has a certain confidence that the witnesses in question will not, in fact, testify. And Gaetz himself seemed to hedge, indicating that the need to preserve executive privilege made the question of Mulvaney’s and Pompeo’s testimony “a tough balance for the president.”
Whatever spin these three men might put on their interactions with the president, the facts that might be elicited from them, given the wealth of information about their activities in the Ukraine scandal, are most unlikely to exculpate Trump. And it’s not only them: There’s also Trump’s former national-security adviser John Bolton, who has publicly suggested that the White House harbors “fear of what I may say.” The last time Mulvaney opened his mouth at a public press conference, he openly admitted that military aid to Ukraine was held up, in part, pending “investigations.” Giuliani, meanwhile, seems to blab major admissions every time a journalist gets him on the phone—or every time he inadvertently butt-dials a journalist. And that’s before the former New York City mayor starts tweeting.