Mulvaney Tries To Put The Genie Back In The Bottle After Admitting Ukraine Quid Pro Quo
White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney on Thursday tried to walk back comments he made tying Ukraine aid to a political favor for President Donald Trump, saying that assistance to Ukraine was not conditioned on Ukraine investigating former Vice President Joe Biden and a theory related to 2016 election interference.
Mulvaney issued a statement Thursday afternoon accusing the media of “misconstruing” his earlier remarks to the press at the White House “to advance a biased and political witch hunt against President Trump.”
“Let me be clear, there was absolutely no quid pro quo between Ukrainian military aid and any investigation into the 2016 election,” Mulvaney said. “The president never told me to withhold any money until the Ukrainians did anything related to the server.”
Mulvaney insisted the only reason security aid was held up was because the administration was reviewing whether other nations were contributing enough and out of concerns over corruption.
However, Mulvaney indicated earlier Thursday that the Trump administration had held up almost $400 million in military assistance to Ukraine in part because Trump wanted Kiev to investigate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, as well as an unproven conspiracy theory about Ukraine’s involvement in the hack of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) server in 2016. The theory diminishes Russia’s involvement in the DNC hack. Trump’s former homeland security adviser recently called the theory “completely debunked.”
“Did Trump also mention to me in the past that the corruption related to the DNC server? Absolutely, no question about that. But that was it. That’s why we held up the money,” Mulvaney told reporters at the earlier afternoon briefing.
“The look back to what happened in 2016 certainly was part of the things that he was worried about in corruption with that nation. And that is absolutely appropriate,” Mulvaney continued, suggesting Trump wanted assistance with an ongoing investigation by the Justice Department.
Mulvaney also told reporters that there would be “political influence in foreign policy” and that they needed to “get over it.”
Mulvaney’s remarks earlier in the day appeared to undercut Trump’s repeated pronouncements that there was “no quid pro quo” related to his conversations with Ukraine.
Trump encouraged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on a July 25 phone call to investigate an unproven theory about Kiev’s involvement in the DNC server hack as well as corruption allegations against former Vice President Joe Biden.
Trump and his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani have repeatedly raised corruption allegations against Biden and his son, Hunter, without providing specific evidence of them.
Hours later, facing the ire of Republicans, Mulvaney reversed course from his earlier remarks, saying the “only reasons we were holding the money was because of concern about lack of support from other nations and concerns over corruption.” He blamed the media for misinterpreting his statements.
Thankfully, his previous statements were captured on video: