Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney acknowledged for the first time that President Donald Trump withheld aid from Ukraine until the country agreed to investigate Democrats, before walking back those comments hours later.
Mulvaney told reporters during a contentious press conference Thursday that the aid was “absolutely no question” withheld in part because Trump wanted Ukraine to look into “corruption that related to the DNC server.”
Mulvaney said that the military aid was withheld for three reasons: Trump’s worries about corruption in Ukraine, his feeling that other countries were not contributing enough money to aid Ukraine, and “whether or not they were cooperating in an ongoing investigation with our Department of Justice” into Democrats and the origin of the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Trump has particularly zeroed in on an unfounded conspiracy theory that the Ukrainians have access to a missing Democratic National Committee server, as part of the false theory that Democrats faked the hack of their servers to blame Trump and defeat him in 2016.
“That is it. And that is why we held up the money. … 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,” Mulvaney said.
Pressed by ABC News’ Jonathan Karl on the fact that what he was describing was quid pro quo — something the president and congressional Republicans have repeatedly said did not happen with respect to military aid — Mulvaney suggested the administration’s actions were common and normal.
“Common and normal,” huh?
It’s heartening when the enemy steps on his own dick.