Alert Palmer Report reader Joshua Vandamm messaged me with the following excerpt from the transcript of the White House presser of 17 October with Mick Mulvaney. Toward the end of the presser, in discussing the now infamous conversation with Donald Trump and the president of Ukraine, Mulvaney says, “Let me ask you this: If we wanted to cover this up, would we have called the Department of Justice almost immediately and have them look at the transcript of the tape?” Is Mulvaney here admitting that the conversation was taped? Oh Lordy, I hope so.
On 25 September, the Washington Post reported that, “… experts who have worked in other recent administrations say Trump is unlikely to have any tapes to check for discrepancies in the rough transcript — but there are likely to be plenty of witnesses to the call who could testify to its accuracy.” So far conventional wisdom is that a tape of the call probably doesn’t exist. Mulvaney seems to indicate otherwise. Was it a simple slip of the tongue?
Mulvaney does a great deal of dancing around the issues throughout the presser. Even the excerpt quoted above is hopelessly naive and has the indelible stamp of concealed culpability. To quote again in part, “If we wanted to cover this up, would we have called the Department of Justice almost immediately and have them look at the transcript …?” The answer is that of course they would. It’s what known in intelligence circles as a “limited hangout.” Or as Richard Nixon once so aptly put it, “Give them the hors d’oeuvres and maybe they won’t come back for the main course.” In this case, thanks to Mulvaney’s slip, one that only Palmer Report’s Mr Vandamm seems to have noticed, the main course just might very well be a tape.
Of course, Mulvaney makes the same mistake most journalists and a lot of White House Trump apologists make all the time: that *quid pro quo* is, if you will, the sine qua non of Trump’s criminal culpability. The fact of the matter is no quid pro quo was necessary for a crime to have been committed. Trump receiving any information on the Bidens for any reason at all is illegal. Trump didn’t have to withhold any money or threaten to withhold it for it to have been a crime. Mulvaney admits as much and seems to think the whole thing rests on quid pro quo. It does not.
The real question is, did Trump seek damning information about the Bidens from Zelensky at all? A tape of the conversation would clear the matter up, and if it turns out there was one then Trump’s concealing that fact is incriminating all by itself. Thanks to Freud it is known in the psychology of confessions that criminals experience a distinct improvement in mood when they confess. Was that what Mulvaney was doing? Was his admission there was a tape of the conversation ultimately Freudian? Freud isn’t laughing yet, but somewhere I imagine he may very well have just cracked a wry smile.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.