ACTING WHITE HOUSE chief of staff Mick Mulvaney acknowledged Thursday that the White House indeed had held up congressionally approved aid to Ukraine to get the nation to investigate alleged Democratic misdeeds in the 2016 campaign, undercutting President Donald Trump‘s angry and repeated insistence that there was “no quid pro quo.”[
“The look back to what happened in 2016 certainly was part of the thing that he was worried about in corruption with that nation. And that is absolutely appropriate,” Mulvaney told reporters at the White House.
“Did (Trump) also mention to me in [the] past the corruption related to the DNC server? Absolutely,” Mulvaney said, referring to unfounded allegations that foreign nations helped Democrats in the last presidential election. “No question about that. But that’s it, and that’s why we held up the money.”
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Asked directly by a reporter if the inquiry was a factor in holding up the $390 million in aid Ukraine desperately needed to thwart Russian aggression, Mulvaney said, “Yeah.” Pressed further as to whether it was indeed a quid pro quo, Mulvaney grew agitated.
“We do that all the time. Get over it,” the acting chief of staff said. “Politics is going to be involved in foreign policy. Elections do have consequences.”
The startling admission appears to go directly to the main issue leading the march toward presidential impeachment in the Democratic-controlled House: that Trump illegally used foreign aid as leverage in getting a foreign nation to investigate his political rivals.[
The House is starting out with a rough transcript of a phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and a whistleblower report that reveals that Trump, after hearing Ukraine’s need to buy missiles to fight off Russia, said, “I would like you to do us a favor, though.” After that, Trump discussed his desire for investigations into the 2016 campaign as well as one former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
Trump repeatedly has called it a “perfect” phone call and insisted it showed no effort to pressure Ukraine. The House has opened an impeachment inquiry and House investigators having been hearing testimony from witnesses behind closed doors.
Mulvaney, however, virtually admitted that the president held up aid in exchange for an investigation but said there was nothing wrong with it.
Asked if it was appropriate for Trump or any president to ask a foreign nation to investigate a political opponent, Mulvaney said, “That’s like asking if it’s appropriate to beat your wife. It supposes that the president did something wrong.”[
Asked why the call transcripts was placed in a super-secure server at the White House, Mulvaney said he would not discuss classified procedures. But he added that since the White House released the written account of the call, they had nothing to hide.
“There was no cover-up,” he said.
Mulvaney walked back his statements later Thursday, saying his remarks were misconstrued by reporters.
“Let me be clear, there was absolutely no quid pro quo between Ukrainian military aid and any investigation into the 2016 election,” he said in a statement, accusing the media of working to further a “biased and political witch hunt” against Trump.