House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday called acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney’s comments about aid to Ukraine a day earlier a “confession.”
She also told CNN that his statement — acknowledging a quid-pro-quo in the administration’s dealings with Ukraine before walking it back — was an example of Team Trump trying to make “lawlessness normal and even make lawlessness a virtue.”
Pelosi also knocked Mulvaney for having “a cavalier attitude of ‘get over it,’” a reference to his remark to reporters who were questioning him about his statement that Trump withheld nearly $400 million in US aid to the country unless officials there agreed to investigate the hacked Democratic National Committee’s server during the 2016 election.
The former lawmaker later tried to walk back his comments, but House Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff told CNN Friday that the walk back was “not the least bit credible.”
But President Trump dismissed questions about Mulvaney at the White House.
“I think he clarified it,” he said, referring to Mulvaney’s later statement.
Mulvaney’s admission undercut the president’s position that there was no quid pro quo during Trump’s phone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky that sparked the House impeachment investigation.
Democrats cast Mulvaney’s remarks as further evidence of wrongdoing as Trump sought a “favor” from Ukraine.
The president, traveling in Texas, stood by his top aide, calling Mulvaney a “good man.”
“I have a lot of confidence” in him, said Trump, who has repeatedly denied any quid pro quo and described his call as perfect.
But Mulvaney’s initial remarks spun open a new phase of the impeachment inquiry.
He indicated that a quid pro quo was at play for the military aid — but a different one than Democrats initially highlighted as they probed Trump’s efforts to have Ukraine investigate a company linked to the son of Joe Biden.
Trump, as shown in a rough transcript of the July call with Zelensky, sought help in investigating not only the firm tied to Biden but also a security company hired by the DNC that discovered that Russian agents had broken into the committee’s network.
The stolen emails were subsequently published by WikiLeaks ahead of the 2016 election.
“The look back to what happened in 2016 certainly was part of the thing that he was worried about in corruption with that nation,” Mulvaney told reporters.
“Did he also mention to me in the past the corruption that related to the DNC server? Absolutely, no question about that,” Mulvaney continued. “That’s why we held up the money.”