(CNSNews.com) - Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney told “Fox News Sunday” that he did not say President Donald Trump ordered a quid pro quo in Ukraine.
“Why did you say that in that briefing that President Trump had ordered a quid pro quo, that investigating the Democrats, that aid to Ukraine depended on investigating the Democrats? Why did you say that?” host Chris Wallace asked.
“Again, that's not what I said. That's what people said I said. Here's what I said, I'll say it again and hopefully people will listen this time. There were two reasons that we held up the aid. We talked about this at some length. The first one was the rampant corruption in Ukraine,” Mulvaney said.
“Ukraine -- by the way, Chris, it's so bad in Ukraine that in 2014, Congress passed a law .. requiring us to make sure that corruption was moving in the right direction. So, corruption is a big deal. Everyone knows it. The president was also concerned about whether or not other nations, specifically European nations, were helping with foreign aid to the Ukraine as well,” he said.
“We talked about that for quite a while now. I did then mention that in the past, the president had mentioned for me to talk about the DNC server. He had mentioned the DNC server to other people publicly. He even mentioned it to President Zelensky in the phone call, but it wasn't connected to the aid, and that's where I think people got sidetracked this weekend at that press conference,” Mulvaney said.
Wallace showed a clip of Mulvaney answering a question at last week’s White House press conference.
WALLACE: You were asked specifically by Jonathan Karl, was investigating Democrats one of the conditions for holding up the aide? Was that part of the quid pro quo? And you said, it happens all the time.
MULVANEY: Yes, but go back and watch what I said before that. I don't know if you guys can cue it or not. There was a long answer about corruption and a long answer about foreign aid.
WALLACE: No, you totally said that.
MULVANEY: Just like I told you then, and then I said the exact same thing I just said now, which is that he mentioned in passing yes, but the reason that we held back the aid with the two reasons I mentioned. And I can prove it to you. The aid flowed.
Once we were able to satisfy ourselves that corruption was actually -- they were doing better with it, we got that information from our folks from the conversation with Minister Zelensky and once we were able to establish we had the Office of Management and Budget do research on other countries' aid to Ukraine, it turns out they don't get any lethal aid, but they do give a considerable sum of money and nonlethal aid.
Once those two things were cleared, the money flowed. There was never any connection between the flow of money and the server.
WALLACE: But, Mick, you know, I hate to go through this, but you said what you said.
WALLACE: And the fact is, after that exchange with Jonathan Karl, you were asked another time why the aide was held up. What was the condition for the aid? And you didn't mention two conditions, you mentioned three conditions.
Wallace said that not only did Mulvaney said that “investigating the Democrats was one of the three conditions, not two,” but he said it was part of the Justice Department’s investigation into the origins of the Russia probe.
“But the fact is that not only did the press think you said it, here's what a statement that was put out by a senior Justice Department official: ‘If the White House was withholding aid in regards to the cooperation of any investigation at the Department of Justice, that is news to us.’ Everybody thinks that that's what you said and you didn't,” Wallace added.
Mulvaney insisted that he never said there was a quid pro quo.
“I never used that language, because there is not a quid pro quo,” he said, adding that “reporters will use their language all the time.”
“So, my language never said quid pro quo,” Mulvaney said. “But let's get to the heart of the matter. Go back and look at that list of three things. What was I talking about? Things that was legitimate for the president to do.
“Number one, it is legitimate for the president to want to know what's going on with the ongoing investigation into the server. Everybody acknowledges that -- at least I think most normal people do. It's completely legitimate to ask about that,” he said.
“Number two, it's legitimate to tie the aid to corruption. It's legitimate to tie the aid to foreign aid from other countries. That's what I was talking about with the three. Can I see how people took it the wrong way? Absolutely, but I never said there was quid pro quo, because there isn't,” Mulvaney said.