Mulvaney came into the room on the defensive, immediately announcing the administration’s decision to hold the next G-7 at Trump’s Doral golf course and using a matter-of-fact tone as he tried to paint the move as routine.
He then nonchalantly admitted that while the administration was withholding aid from Ukraine, Trump was focused on a conspiracy theory that Ukraine was somehow involved in a 2016 election interference scheme.
Below are the most shocking comments Mulvaney made in his 30-minute appearance in the briefing room:
Trump Pushed For G-7 To Be At Doral
Not only did Mulvaney announce that the administration would hold the G-7 summit at Trump’s National Doral resort in Florida next summer, the acting chief of staff said it was the President’s idea.
“We sat around one night, we were back in the dining room going over it with our advance team and we had the list and he goes, ‘what about Doral?’ And I was like, ‘that’s not the craziest idea, that makes perfect sense,’” Mulvaney said.
Trump himself wanted G-7 to be held at his Doral resort in Florida pic.twitter.com/3VLZF9fKme
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) October 17, 2019
Ukraine Aid Holdup Linked To DNC Server Conspiracy Theory
In perhaps his most shocking comment of the presser, Mulvaney admitted that Trump mentioned a conservative conspiracy theory about the DNC and Russian election meddling in 2016 while discussing his decision to hold up aid for Ukraine.
“Did he also mention to me in passing the corruption related to the DNC server? Absolutely,” Mulvaney said at a press conference Thursday while explaining why Trump held up military aid to Ukraine.
“The look back to what happened in 2016 certainly was part of the thing that he was worried about in corruption with that nation,” he added when a reporter asked a follow-up question. “And that is absolutely appropriate.”
Tying Foreign Assistance To Political Requests Is Normal
A reporter told Mulvaney that he admitted to a quid pro quo by acknowledging that Ukraine’s aid was contingent on them conducting an investigation that could help Trump politically.
Mulvaney replied, “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 would change their policies on immigration.”
Mulvaney admits Ukraine military aid tied to probe into DNC server pic.twitter.com/IyMVpxCFFC
— Caitlin MacNeal (@caitlinmacneal) October 17, 2019
Pushing A Probe Into Biden Could Be Bad
While defending his earlier comments on the administration’s push for Ukraine to investigate the hacked DNC server, Mulvaney suggested that it would be inappropriate to push a foreign country to investigate Joe Biden in order to secure aid.
“Are you saying that it’s okay for the U.S. government to hold up aid and require a foreign government to investigate political opponents of the president?” a reporter asked Mulvaney during the press briefing.
“You’re talking about looking forward to the next election,” Mulvaney replied.
“So you would say that it’s fine to ask about the DNC but not about Biden?” the reported then asked.
“That’s a hypothetical because that did not happen here,” the acting chief of staff responded.
Mulvaney did not explicitly say it would be unethical to withhold aid to Ukraine while pushing the country’s leader to dig up dirt on Biden, but he certainly implied it.