The chief of staff for Vice President Mike Pence said Tuesday that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s vote delay on approval of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement to see how several Democrat from swing states vote on impeachment is a “quid pro quo” situation just like she has accused President Trump of with Ukraine.
“This deal was negotiated over a year ago,” Marc Short told during a break in House impeachment inquiry testimony.
“It’s been sitting in Congress…basically, it’s been held down because there are 31 Democrats in (President Donald) Trump districts, in essence, to say if you go along with impeachment, I’ll give you the USMCA vote,” he said.
While Democrats talk about a quid pro quo and bribery in connection with the president’s interactions with Ukraine, Short said “there’s nothing like that, saying I’m not going to give you a vote on USMCA until I get your vote on impeachment.”
The USMCA would replace the current North America Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, negotiated and approved during Bill Clinton’s first term. Trump promised on the 2016 campaign trail to renegotiate that deal because he said it’s been so disadvantageous to U.S. corporations and workers.
Short also noted that the “government runs out of money” Thursday without passage of another continuing resolution to fund the various agencies, since Democrats and Republicans can’t agree on finalization of the 12 annual spending bills.
“Also in that bill, there is $250 million in funding for Ukraine,” said Short.
“How about the irony that there’s more funding being tied up for Ukraine because Democrats are pursuing a relentless, meaningless impeachment inquiry that the American people know is a fraud.”
Short also remarked about testimony Tuesday from Jennifer Williams, a career State Department employee detailed to Pence’s office as a Russia expert.
He asked why she didn’t raise concerns about a July 25 call between Trump and Ukraine’s president if she had concerns.
“She said that she found the call unusual, yet she never raised any concerns with her supervisor, she never raised any concerns with me as chief of staff, she never raised any concerns with the vice president,” said Short.
“Once again, there’s nothing that’s happened here that’s wrong. We have basically impeachment in pursuit of a crime.”
As for the USMCA, all three countries’ legislative bodies must approve it before it will go into effect.