White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney continued to defend his Thursday news conference that was widely interpreted as suggesting President Donald Trump linked aid to Ukraine with an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden.
Mulvaney acknowledged Sunday that there might be some confusion about the news conference. “Can I see how people took that the wrong way? Absolutely. But I never said there was a quid pro quo — cause there isn’t,” he told “Fox News Sunday” during a combative interview with Chris Wallace.
The White Houser official said several times that his comments at the news conference were subject to interpretation by reporters who applied the word “quid pro quo” to his narrative.
“That’s not what I said. That’s what people said that I said,” Mulvaney told Fox News.
The acting chief of staff said military assistance to Ukraine was withheld only because Trump wanted assurances that American allies were also helping the east European country and because the president had concerns about corruption in Ukraine compromising that assistance.
When playing a video of the news conference, Wallace told Mulvaney that he had agreed that the aid was stalled as part of a quid pro quo, saying, “It happens all the time.”
Mulvaney then said it was more important to assess what Trump said in his phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky than what the acting chief of staff had said at the news conference.
TOPSHOT – US President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky shake hands during a meeting in New York on September 25, 2019, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
“The president never mentions the aid at all in the phone call … doesn’t say ‘oh, by the way, I need to to do this, this and this or else the money won’t flow.’ We all know enough about this president that if he feels very strongly about something he is going to put that out there directly, and that did not happen,” Mulvaney said.
He insisted the transcript and the fact that the “money flowed” regardless of what Ukraine did or did not do, “should put this issue to bed.”