The Note: 'Get over it' defense enrages and flummoxes Democrats

The challenge for Dems in the impeachment inquiry is focusing on what’s known.

October 18, 2019, 6:04 AM

The TAKE with Rick Klein

Just about everything you need to know about the state of the case for and against impeachment played out in the space of a few minutes involving Mick Mulvaney.

ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl asked the acting White House chief of staff -- directly -- if there was a "quid pro quo" where American funding to Ukraine "will not flow unless the investigation into the Democrats' server happens as well."

"We do that all the time with foreign policy," Mulvaney said. "I have news for everybody: Get over it. There's going to be political influence in foreign policy."

PHOTO: Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney answers questions during a briefing at the White House on Oct. 17, 2019 in Washington, D.C.
Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney answers questions during a briefing at the White House on Oct. 17, 2019 in Washington, D.C.
Win Mcnamee/Getty Images

Mulvaney later issued a statement contending that his words were misconstrued. But that response shows both the potential strength and weaknesses of the case Democrats are building for impeachment.

The challenge for Democrats in the impeachment inquiry is focusing on what's known, as opposed to what's unknown. It's about what's being admitted, as opposed to what's being denied.

At the same time, it's about who is talking -- and more people are talking almost every day -- as well as who is not. And, with Energy Secretary Rick Perry set to depart the administration, it's about who is going as well as who is staying, plus one prominent figure -- Rudy Giuliani -- who was never working for the administration in the first place.

This week crystallized the mind-bending contradictions and eye-popping justifications that have become normal operating procedure in the Trump White House.

The facts are fairly well-established already in the impeachment inquiry. "Get over it" is not a legal strategy, but remember that impeachment is far more political than it is legal.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

There was some serious irony to the fact that President Trump got his crowd in Dallas, Texas, to finish his sentence in unison: “quid pro quo.”

Just hours after his own Chief of Staff seemed to admit to a quid pro quo scheme himself -- holding federal, congressionally-approved aid at ransom for political reasons -- the president was using those words to accuse Joe Biden’s son of corrupt behavior but without any facts.

Specifically, Trump said the former vice president’s son received a “payoff.”

When asked about his own private business ventures while his father was serving as vice president, Hunter Biden told ABC News earlier this week, “In retrospect, look, I think that it was poor judgment on my part. Is that I think that it was poor judgment because I don't believe now, when I look back on it -- I know that there was -- did nothing wrong at all. However, was it poor judgment to be in the middle of something that is...a swamp in — in — in many ways? Yeah."

The back and forth of it all has likely successfully muddied the waters for the president’s most ardent fans. The question resonating in the crowd in Dallas was how could the president have done anything wrong, if there was a corruption allegation to look into?

Not once during President Trump’s Thursday rally did he defend asking the Ukrainian government for a favor. Instead he implied there could be no wrongdoing because he released details of his call with the Ukrainian president. If in plain sight, there must mean nothing to hide.

Over and over though, he demanded to know who the whistleblower was and blasted the inspector general who escalated the whistleblower’s claim, though he appointed him.

PHOTO: President Donald Trump speaks during a "Keep America Great" rally at the American Airlines Center in Dallas on Oct. 17, 2019.
President Donald Trump speaks during a "Keep America Great" rally at the American Airlines Center in Dallas on Oct. 17, 2019.
Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

The TIP with Adam Kelsey

We're beginning to get a sense for how Sen. Bernie Sanders' return to the trail will look. After he initially acknowledged that his heart attack would force him to "change the nature" of his rigorous rally schedule, now he's saying he "misspoke" and plans to "get back into the groove of a very vigorous campaign."

First, there's the much-ballyhooed "Bernie's Back" rally in New York City on Saturday, where Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will lend not only her endorsement, but her energy to help shoulder the load for Sanders.

PHOTO: Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT, speaks during a campaign rally on Sept. 19, 2019 in Chapel Hill, N.C.
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT, speaks during a campaign rally on Sept. 19, 2019 in Chapel Hill, N.C.
Sara D. Davis/Getty Images, FILE

And then it's back to business as usual, as the senator sits for an interview on ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live!," travels to Iowa and South Carolina for two forums and takes a tour of Rep. Rashida Tlaib's Michigan congressional district -- all over the course of just five days.

Sanders earned solid reviews this week for returning to the debate stage with the same vitality we've come to expect over the past four years. But the weeks ahead may still be viewed as a test of whether he's up for the four arduous months remaining before the early states vote and caucus.

The combination of a reinvigorated return to the stump, a couple of endorsements from the "Squad," and his field-leading $33.7 million on-hand could be the boost he needs to arrest his recent poll slide and give his campaign a second wind.


"I instantly fell in love with her. And then I've fallen in love with her more every day," Hunter Biden says of marrying his new bride, Melissa Cohen Biden, after only knowing her for six days. The former vice president's son talks about why his life is in "the best place I've ever been" in an exclusive interview with ABC News.


ABC News' "Start Here" podcast. Friday morning's episode features ABC News Chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl, who explains why acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney's comments about Ukraine aid money may change the conversation around impeachment. Then, ABC News' James Longman checks in from Iraq to discuss the Syria ceasefire announcement.

ABC News' "Powerhouse Politics" podcast. Former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a vocal supporter of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, a 2016 Republican presidential candidate and current CNN political contributor joins ABC News' Political Director Rick Klein and Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl on the podcast.


  • Former Rep. Joe Sestak, D-Pa. campaigns in New Hampshire on Friday and Saturday. On Friday, he meets with homeless veterans in Nashua at 8 a.m. and on Saturday, he attends a house party in Laconia at 4 p.m. On Sunday, he begins a campaign walk in Brattleboro, Vermont, at 8 a.m., ending in Dublin at 7:45 p.m.
  • Former Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., continues his 11-state road trip stopping in Peoria, Illinois, Davenport and Des Moines, Iowa, on Friday. On Saturday, he begins the day in Des Moines before driving to Omaha, Nebraska, and he finishes off the weekend on Sunday traveling to Denver.
  • Former Rep. John Delaney, D-Md., Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro campaign in Iowa on Friday.
  • Harris and Booker also attend the Betty Henderson Elected Officials cook off at 6:30 p.m. on Friday in Orangeburg, South Carolina.
  • Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg campaign in Illinois on Friday.
  • Andrew Yang participates in a 10-hour online Q&A session via social media on Friday beginning at 10 a.m.
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., hosts a town hall in Norfolk, Virginia, on Friday at 6 p.m.
  • Montana Gov. Steve Bullock campaigns in Philadelphia throughout the day on Friday.
  • Klobuchar campaigns in Iowa throughout the weekend in Dubuque, Waterloo and Panora on Saturday and in Newton and Cedar Rapids on Sunday.
  • Harris and Booker campaign in South Carolina on Saturday.
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden campaigns in Connecticut and New York throughout the weekend.
  • Castro campaigns in Las Vegas on Saturday and Sunday.
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. hosts a "Bernie's Back" rally in New York City on Saturday at 1 p.m.
  • Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-Texas, delivers remarks at the Alabama Democratic Conference in Birmingham on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. (CDT).
  • Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., Delaney, Klobuchar and Warren, campaign in Iowa on Sunday.
  • Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, Tom Steyer, Marianne Williamson, Bennet, Delaney, and Sanders attend the Iowa Passport to Victory 2020 event on Sunday, beginning at 11 a.m. (CDT) in Elkader
  • Harris attends a church service in West Columbia, South Carolina, at 8 a.m. on Sunday. She then participates in a barber shop talk in Columbia at 1:45 p.m. Later, she hosts a dinner in Cedar Rapids, Iowa at 5:30 p.m. (CDT).
  • Booker participates in a conversation at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, at 7 p.m.
  • Sunday on "This Week": The Powerhouse Roundtable debates the week's politics, with former New Jersey Governor and ABC News Contributor Chris Christie, former Chicago Mayor and ABC News Contributor Rahm Emanuel, former North Dakota Senator and ABC News Contributor Heidi Heitkamp, and Republican Strategist Sara Fagen.
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