Acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney seemed to confirm suspicions that President Donald Trump withheld military aid to Ukraine in order to pressure that country’s leader to conduct an investigation into Joe Biden, as well as to investigate an unfounded conspiracy alleging a missing DNC server was somewhere in Ukraine.
As of Thursday afternoon, as reported on by HillReporter.com, Mulvaney’s comments implied that the quid pro quo alleged by a whistleblower, several former State Department officials, and Democratic lawmakers involved in the impeachment inquiry, was fact.
“Did [Trump] also mention to me in [the] past the corruption related to the DNC server? Absolutely. No question about that. But that’s it, and that’s why we held up the money,” Mulvaney said.
It didn’t appear to be a misstatement at the time, either, as journalists questioning the acting chief of staff followed up on the question, to see if he could clarify. Mulvaney seemed to double down on the issue, arguing that such methods weren’t inherently wrong.
“I have news for everybody: Get over it,” Mulvaney said. “There’s going to be political influence in foreign policy. That is going to happen. Elections have consequences, and foreign policy is going to change from the Obama administration to the Trump administration.”
The news dominated headlines for awhile after Mulvaney made his statements. Some alleged he had implicated Trump in an impeachable offense. “Mulvaney really did some damage to the president…you don’t need a quid pro quo, but if you did, there is one” following his remarks, Watergate prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks said, per a report from Raw Story.
By Thursday evening, just hours after he made the comments, Mulvaney backtracked on the issue entirely, blaming the media for portraying his remarks in the wrong light.
Mulvaney statement cleaning up his briefing comments: “Let me be clear, there was absolutely no quid pro quo between Ukrainian military aid and any investigation into the 2016 election.” pic.twitter.com/iMNZ0DuH6X
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) October 17, 2019
“Once again, the media has decided to misconstrue my comments to advance a biased and political witch hunt against President Trump,” Mulvaney wrote in a statement.
Mulvaney went on to state that no quid pro quo of any kind existed between the president and Ukraine, Axios reported.
“Let me be clear, there was absolutely no quid pro quo between Ukrainian military aid and any investigation into the 2016 election,” he said. “The president never told me to withhold any money until the Ukrainians did anything related to the server. The only reasons we were holding the money was because of concern about lack of support from other nations and concerns over corruption…There never was any condition on the flow of the aid related to the matter of the DNC server.”
The conspiracy theory about a Democratic National Committee server being somewhere in Ukraine has long been debunked. In fact, Trump has been repeatedly warned that the idea was not based on sound evidence, the New York Times reported, but has continued to insist upon it being legitimate in private.