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Read Mulvaney’s Conflicting Statements on Quid Pro Quo

Mick Mulvaney, President Trump’s acting chief of staff, answered questions on Thursday about Mr. Trump’s interactions with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine that are at the center of an impeachment inquiry. Mr. Mulvaney said the United States withheld nearly $400 million in military aid to pressure Ukraine to investigate what the president has long insisted was Kiev’s assistance to Democrats during the 2016 election. Mr. Mulvaney’s remarks, which he later said were misconstrued, undercut Mr. Trump’s own insistence that there was no quid pro quo with Mr. Zelensky.

Around 1 p.m. Eastern time

QUESTION: So the demand for an investigation into the Democrats was part of the reason that he ordered to withhold funding to Ukraine?

MULVANEY: 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.

QUESTION: Withholding the funding?

MULVANEY: Yeah, which ultimately then flowed. By the way, there was a report that we were worried that the money wouldn’t — if we didn’t pay out the money it would be illegal, okay? It would be unlawful.

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QUESTION: But to be clear, what you just described is a quid pro quo. It is, funding will not flow unless the investigation into the Democratic server happened as well.

MULVANEY: We do — we do that all the time with foreign policy. We were holding up money at the same time for, what was it, the Northern Triangle countries. We were holding up aid at the Northern Triangle countries so that they — so that they would change their policies on immigration.

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MULVANEY: And I have news for everybody. Get over it. There is going to be political influence in foreign policy.

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QUESTION: But — wait. No, no. On the call, the president did ask about investigating the Bidens. Are you saying that the money that was held up, that that had nothing to do with the Bidens? And you’re —

MULVANEY: Yeah. No, the money held up had absolutely nothing to do with Biden. There’s no — and that was the point I made to you.

QUESTION: — And you’re drawing the distinction? You’re saying that it would be wrong to hold up money for the Bidens —

MULVANEY: — There were three — three factors. Again — I was involved with the — the process by which the money was held up temporarily, okay? Three issues for that: the corruption in the country, whether or not other countries were participating in the support of the Ukraine, and whether or not they were cooperating in an ongoing investigation with our Department of Justice. That’s completely legitimate.

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QUESTION: You just said you were involved in the process in which — you know, the money being held up temporarily. You named three issues for that —

MULVANEY: Yeah.

QUESTION: — The corruption in the country, whether or not the country would look — they were assisting with an ongoing investigation of corruption. How is that not an establishment of an exchange, of a quid pro quo? You just seem to continue to be establishing this —

MULVANEY: Those are the terms that you used. I mean, go look at what Gordon Sondland said today in his — in his testimony. It was that — I think in his opening statement he said something along the lines of they were trying to get the — the deliverable. And the deliverable was a statement by the Ukraine about how they were going to deal with corruption, okay? Go read his testimony if you haven’t already. And what he says is, and he’s right, that’s absolutely ordinary course of business. This is — this is what you do when you have someone come to the White House, when you either arrange a visit for the president, you have a phone call with the president, a lot of times we use that as the opportunity to get them to make a statement of their policy or to announce something that they’re going to do. It’s one of the reasons we can’t, you know, you can sort of announce that at — he — on the phone call or at the meeting. This is the ordinary course of foreign policy.


5:52 p.m. Eastern time

“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 D.N.C. server.”


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