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Long IslandColumnistsDan Janison

Five quotes in 2019 that defined Trump's impeachment crisis

Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney

Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney on Dec. 19. Credit: AP/Evan Vucci

The year now ending delivered an especially rich lode of famous words from the halls of presidential power.

All were unique to the Trump administration, and all conveyed a sense of the impeachment crisis that goes on past New Year's.

Here are five of them:

'Get over it.'

On Oct. 17, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney clearly suggested at a briefing that the president used U.S. military assistance to Ukraine for leverage in getting Democrats investigated.

"I have news for everybody: Get over it. There’s going to be political influence in foreign policy," Mulvaney said after a reporter noted he was describing the very essence of a quid pro quo.

Mulvaney later tried walking it back by saying he'd somehow been misunderstood and that Trump's political grievance about Ukraine "wasn't connected to the aid."

Still, Mulvaney's original meaning was clear. Nothing that came out in subsequent House impeachment hearings indicated that his "get over it" was anything but blithe candor.

'The right to do whatever I want …'

Mulvaney's verbal performance was unsurprising in light of Trump's more controversial claim of July 23, when the president addressed the Turning Point USA's Teen Student Action Summit in Washington.

Trump complained about the duration and cost of the Russia investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller.

“Then," he added, "I have an Article II, where I have to the right to do whatever I want as president. But I don’t even talk about that."

Article II of the U.S. Constitution sets forth executive power. Of course, it doesn't say he has total power and also includes the powers of Congress to oversee and impeach him.

Trump's special twists on his official entitlements promise to remain a staple of his tenure.

'… I have insurance.'

Trump personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani made this odd statement in November as he argued against the notion that he could become a fall guy for the Ukraine scandal, perhaps just as personal lawyer Michael Cohen did for Trump's campaign-finance transgressions.

"I've seen things written like ‘he's going to throw me under the bus,’ ” Giuliani said in a TV interview. "When they say that, I say he isn't, but I have insurance."

Later he claimed on Twitter that he was talking about "files in my safe" supposedly implicating would-be Trump challenger Joe Biden that would presumably become public if the former mayor were to "disappear."

Two of Giuliani's associates still face charges of funneling money from foreign entities to campaign committees. And the Manhattan U.S. Attorney's Office has reportedly been going over the ex-mayor's financial transactions as well.

'Do us a favor'

Trump famously asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for an investigation of his political rivals. Evidently Trump's request was informed by a far-fetched "theory" that foreign interference in the 2016 U.S. election came out of Kyiv, rather than Moscow.

“I would like you to do us a favor, though,” he said in his famous July 25 phone call with Zelensky — then asked Zelensky to work with Giuliani and Attorney General William Barr on the desired skulduggery involving Biden and his son.

After the statement got prominent billing in the House Judiciary Committee's impeachment articles, Trump went for this spin: “With the word ‘us,’ I am referring to the United States, our Country. I said do us a favor, not me, and our country, not a campaign.”

Unfortunately, he frequently uses the first-person plural to describe himself, rendering the pitch pretty flimsy.

'No part' of a 'drug deal'

Fiona Hill was the National Security Council's senior director for Europe and Russia. In her testimony to Congress in October and November, she quoted former national security adviser John Bolton as saying he wanted "no part" of what he likened to a "drug deal" pressuring Ukraine to help the president's smear campaign against opponents.

She said Bolton told her to notify the chief NSC lawyer about a rogue effort by Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Mulvaney and Giuliani. Bolton has declined to testify but was quoted by Hill under oath as calling Giuliani "a hand grenade who’s going to blow everybody up."


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