Mick Mulvaney desperately tries to lie his way out of the 'quid pro quo' mess he created

Mick Mulvaney desperately tries to lie his way out of the 'quid pro quo' mess he created
White House acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney speaks with reporters Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House. (Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian)
News & Politics

After letting slip multiple grounds for impeaching President Donald Trump at Thursday's press briefing, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney tried desperately to walk back his damning admission.

He had admitted that Trump withheld congressionally approved military aid to Ukraine in order to pressure the country to investigate the Democratic National Committee and the 2016 election (an investigation that clearly was, though Mulvaney didn't admit it, tied to a separate probe about Joe Biden). But after this admission caused an uproar, Mulvaney tried Thursday evening to say no such pressure was ever applied.

"Let me be clear, there was absolutely no quid pro quo between Ukrainian military aid and any investigation into the 2016 election," Mulvaney told reporters after his press briefing. "There never was any condition on the flow of the aid related to the matter of the DNC server.”

This was in direct, flagrant contradiction to Mulvaney's own words just a few hours earlier. But don't take my word for it. Let's roll the tape:

Here's exactly what was said:

Mulvaney: Did he [Trump] also mention to me, in past, the corruption related to the DNC server? Absolutely. No question about that. But that's it — that's why we held up the money.

Reporter: So the demand for the 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.

Reporter: And withholding the funding?

Mulvaney: Yeah! Which ultimately, then, flowed. ...

Reporter: 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 that all the time with foreign policy.

Mulvaney was given multiple chances to clarify what he meant, and repeatedly confirmed that Trump used the Ukraine aid as part of a quid pro quo. Democrats have repeatedly said that Trump's behavior even without a quid pro quo was inappropriate and impeachable, but Republicans have argued that the absence of a quid pro quo exonerates the president. With absolute clarity, Mulvaney confirmed that this GOP talking point is false.

Once he has realized what he did, though, Mulvaney desperately tied to blame the media. Reporters correctly conveyed what Mulvaney admitted to on live TV, so he lashed out at them, saying, "[The] media has decided to misconstrue my comments to advance a biased and political witch hunt against President Trump."

No one misconstrued his statements. They were clear as a sunny day. But now Mulvaney is ridiculously trying to convince us the sky isn't blue.

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