White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney claimed in a statement Thursday that the media misconstrued his comments when they reported that he admitted to a “quid pro quo” arrangement with Ukraine.
Mulvaney told reporters during a press briefing Thursday about Trump’s attempts to stop corruption in Ukraine that “the look-back to what happened in 2016 certainly was part of the thing that he was worried about in corruption with that nation,” adding, “Did he also mention to me in passing the corruption related to the D.N.C. server? Absolutely. No question about that.”
“But that’s it,” Mulvaney declared, “and that’s why we held up the money.”
Critics said Mulvaney admitted to a quid pro quo arrangement with Ukraine by stating that Trump froze military aid to the country pending an investigation into Democrats. (RELATED: Zelensky Says He Will ‘Happily’ Investigate Election Meddling)
Mulvaney released a statement later in the day asserting that the media had taken his comments out of context, explaining, “Let me be clear, there was absolutely no quid pro quo between Ukrainian military aid and any investigation into the 2016 election. The president never told me to withhold any money until the Ukrainians did anything related to the server.”
Read his full statement:
“Once again, the media has decided to misconstrue my comments 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. 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. Multiple times during the more-than 30 minute briefing where I took over 25 questions, I referred to President Trump’s interest in rooting out corruption in Ukraine, and ensuring taxpayer dollars are spent responsibly and appropriately. There was never any connection between the funds and the Ukrainians doing anything with the server – this was made explicitly obvious by the fact that the aid money was delivered without any action on the part of the Ukrainians regarding the server.
There never was any condition on the flow of the aid related to the matter of the DNC server.”
The administration has defended Trump’s phone call with the Ukrainian president and his withholding of aid. They point out that when Trump asked for a “favor” from Ukraine, he was referring to an investigation into 2016 election interference, not former Vice President Joe Biden.
A 2017 report in Politico claimed to find “evidence of Ukrainian government involvement in the race that appears to strain diplomatic protocol dictating that governments refrain from engaging in one another’s elections.”