In an interview with CNN broadcast on Saturday, former federal prosecutor and legal analyst, Michael Zeldin, argued that acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney does not have “absolute immunity” from testifying in the House Democrats’ impeachment investigation, reports Raw Story.
Earlier this week, Mulvaney defied a congressional subpoena, refusing to appear at his deposition, arguing that he has absolute immunity against such actions. According to Zeldin, however, the argument he is using is on shaky legal grounds. In fact, he argues that the law appears to be on House Democrats’ side.
The legal expert explained that there has been “very little law that addressed the issue,” pointing to a case involving former President George W. Bush as precedent.
During Bush’s presidency, the House of Representatives asked then-White House Counsel Harriet Miers to testify. Much like Mulvaney, Miers used the “absolute immunity” argument, but it was rejected by the courts.
A judge rejected Miers’ argument, according to Zeldin, because to accept it “would put the House at a disadvantage to the executive branch.”
“So the only law on this rejects the executive branch absolute immunity position,” he explained, adding that Mulvaney likely has an even weaker case, given that he is seeking absolute immunity from testifying in an impeachment probe.
“I think Mulvaney is in a worse case than Harriet Miers was, because this is in the context of an impeachment, where the House has even more powers than it did under the other scenario.”
As Bloomberg reported, the acting White House chief of staff asked a judge to determine whether he has to comply with the subpoena.
“The House defendants threaten to hold Mr. Mulvaney in contempt or otherwise take adverse action against him for obeying the directive of the head of his branch,” Mulvaney’s lawyer said.
According to former top Russia adviser on the National Security Council, Fiona Hill, who testified before Congress earlier this week, Mulvaney approved a meeting between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
Media: Michael Zeldin: "If @realDonaldTrump is behind this scheme to extract a favor from #Ukraine before anything would proceed militarily or in a @WhiteHouse" meeting for @ZelenskyyUa, "It doesn't make a difference if it didn't come directly from the mouth of the president." pic.twitter.com/JJh0oGfmRY— Porter Anderson (@Porter_Anderson) November 9, 2019
According to Hill, the meeting was conditioned on the eastern European country committing to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.
This has turned Mulvaney into one of the central figures in the impeachment investigation, and his response has reportedly threatened his relationships with other White House officials.
As Bloomberg notes, the acting chief of staff appeared to admit during a recent press conference that Trump had a quid pro quo agreement with the Ukrainian government, allegedly frustrating officials and the president.