RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney defied a subpoena and did not show up to his scheduled date with the House investigators who are conducting the impeachment inquiry. A few moments ago, before boarding Marine One, President Trump said he's not worried about all those who have showed up.
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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: And they've gone out of their way to find the people that hate Donald Trump, President Trump, the most. They put them up there. Everybody's been absolutely fine.
MARTIN: Joining us in studio, NPR White House correspondent Franco Ordoñez. Hi, Franco.
FRANCO ORDOÑEZ, BYLINE: Hi.
MARTIN: So the White House has instructed its people not to cooperate with the House impeachment inquiry, but some of them have. Some of them have shown up. Why didn't Mulvaney?
ORDOÑEZ: I mean, it's a great question. I mean, the White House is saying that their very senior advisers should not need to cooperate. Hogan Gidley released a statement - he's the White House deputy press secretary - saying past Democrat and Republican administrations would not be inclined to permit senior advisers to the president to participate in such, as he's - in his words again - ridiculous, partisan, illegitimate proceedings, and neither is this one. It's a strategy that the administration has put forward, trying to prevent their top, top officials. But as you point out, a lot of the - a lot of other administration officials have spoken out.
Mulvaney is a central figure in this investigation, so there was a lot of interest in him. Remember - last month, it was Mulvaney in the White House briefing room who told reporters that the financial - the military aid was held up in order to pressure Ukraine. And it was also Mulvaney who helped direct the withholding of the military assistance, according to reporting. And these are issues that reporters and all of us want to know more about.
MARTIN: Mulvaney said famously in that press conference, politics is going to be involved in foreign affairs. You got to quote, "deal with it." What's the Democrats' response then?
ORDOÑEZ: Well, the Democrats are saying that this investigation needs to be more transparent, needs to be more open, that they need to bring more people in and really get down to the bottom of these issues. It's fascinating because, you know, President Trump and Republican allies have said that the whole process was a sham, that it was being held in secret. Now it's being put in the open, and now the president is criticizing that.
MARTIN: So when people like Mick Mulvaney don't show up, I mean, does that just give the Democrats more ammunition for articles of impeachment?
ORDOÑEZ: That is certainly what they are saying. They are saying that this is not something that they'd necessarily want to battle in court. They say they don't want to get involved in a rope-a-dope with the administration that could elongate this process. And they want to get right down to it and just continue, and as you point out, they'll just put this to another order of impeachment.
MARTIN: So the public phase of the testimony starts next week. I mean, the first people who are being called have already testified behind closed doors. We have now seen their transcripts released. What new is going to happen?
ORDOÑEZ: Yeah, this is a very new phase of it, of the impeachment process. This is going to bring everything out into the open. And we shall see because a lot of this testimony has been behind closed doors, and it has been hard to track. Not everyone can read the transcripts. Now we'll hear them from themselves.
MARTIN: TV cameras - this is about TV cameras, people saying things in public, and Americans can make up their own minds.
MARTIN: NPR White House correspondent Franco Ordoñez. We appreciate it. Thank you.
ORDOÑEZ: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.