Democrats and the media cried foul Thursday when acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney argued that it was “appropriate” for the president to withhold funds from Ukraine until it investigated possible interference in the 2016 presidential election.
But the Democrat-controlled U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill in September that imposes restrictions on transactions with Russia until it had been cleared of election interference.
The House bill amended an earlier Senate bill — S. 1790, the “National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020” — that required the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to investigate possible Russian interference in elections.
In the House version, all “United States persons” are prohibited “from engaging in transactions with, providing financing for, or in any other way dealing in Russian sovereign debt” after a certain date. That prohibition is lifted after the DNI can certify, within a certain timeframe, that “neither the Government of Russia, nor any person acting as an agent of or on behalf of that government, has knowingly engaged in interference in the most recent election for Federal office”; and after “Congress has passed a joint resolution certifying the determination” of the DNI.
In other words, the Democrat-controlled House would suspend transactions — both public and private — with Russia’s government until the U.S. can be satisfied that Russia had not interfered with the most recent federal election.
That is exactly what Mulvaney said Trump had wanted Ukraine to show, as part of its commitment to fighting corruption — namely, that it was not involved in documented efforts by the Democratic National Committee to use Ukraine to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.
Mulvaney said: “The look back to what happened in 2016 certainly was part of the things [President Trump] was worried about in corruption with that nation. That is absolutely appropriate.”
To Democrats and the media, it was a “quid pro quo” — and grounds for impeachment.
Update: Mulvaney clarified Thursday evening that there was never any “quid pro quo” with Ukraine, adding that no funding had been withheld for reasons related to a suspected Democratic National Committee communications server (that was said, at the time, to have been hacked by Russians, but was never handed to the FBI).
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.