White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney was animated, to put it politely, during a rare press conference held this afternoon.
The purpose of the appearance was, officially, to announce that the administration had chosen Donald Trump’s Doral Resort as the host of next June’s G7 summit. This led the press to badger Mulvaney incessantly regarding the choice itself, how the government arrived at the choice, and how this could somehow skirt the emoluments clauses of the Constitution.
When they were satisfied that they had received all that they would receive from Mulvaney on that subject, the press turned to questions about the President’s alleged attempts to use military aid money as an ultimatum against Ukraine, in order to force investigations into the President’s political rivals.
The White House Chief of Staff completely shocked the room with his answer.
The White House on Thursday delivered a message to any career federal employees who feel discomforted by presidential appointees and politics interfering with their work: “get over it.”
So said acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney in a press briefing, during which he faulted “career bureaucrats” for seeking to subvert President Trump for ideological reasons. Mulvaney’s comments were specifically about the role of politics in foreign policy and followed testimony as part of the House’s impeachment inquiry that suggested career Foreign Service officials were increasingly being undermined by political agendas. The chief of staff cited Michael McKinley, a career Foreign Service officer and former ambassador and senior adviser to State Department Secretary Mike Pompeo before he resigned last week. McKinley testified on Wednesday that morale among the career ranks had plummeted due to the growing role of politics in diplomatic efforts.
“He was really upset with the political influence in foreign policy, that was one of the things he was so upset about this,” Mulvaney said. “Well I have news for everybody: get over it.”
He added “there’s going to be political influence in foreign policy” and emphasized that “elections have consequences.” The policies under President Obama were bound to change under Trump, he explained, while suggesting what career employees have interpreted as undue political influence was merely a manifestation of those changes. He further drove a theory pervasive among Trump administration officials that there exists a deep state conspiracy among career federal workers to undermine Trump.
The comment sparked a firestorm within the mainstream media, who suddenly believed that they had some sort of “smoking gun” regarding a supposed “quid pro quo” between the President and his counterpart in Ukraine.
Mulvaney would later clarify that this was not what he meant, and blamed the biased mainstream media for misconstruing his meaning.