White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney confirmed that President Donald Trump wanted Ukraine to cooperate with an investigation into attempts to meddle in the 2016 election before giving the country lethal military aid.
“Did he also mention to me in past the corruption related to the DNC server? Absolutely,” Mulvaney said. “No question about that. But that’s it, and that’s why we held up the money.”
Mulvaney said that Trump was concerned about corruption in Ukraine, including its efforts in the 2016 election during a press briefing with reporters on Thursday afternoon.
“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 said. “And that is absolutely appropriate.”
Democrats immediately jumped on Mulvaney’s statement, declaring that it was proof that the president had a “quid pro quo” agreement with the foreign aid.
But Mulvaney said it was a common request.
“We do that all the time with foreign policy,” he said, referring to requirements for foreign aid before it was released.
“I have news for everybody, get over it. There’s going to be political influence in foreign policy,” Mulvaney said.
He said that asking Ukraine for help in an investigation into the 2016 election was an ongoing Justice Department investigation and “completely legitimate.”
He also said that the holdup on delivering aid funds had nothing to do with Ukraine investigating former Vice President Joe Biden.
“The money that was held up had nothing to do with Biden,” Mulvaney said.
Trump spoke about investigating the Democrat National Committee server and Crowdstrike in his call with Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky, which was later released by the White House.
CrowdStrike, the cybersecurity firm that examined the DNC server and said it was hacked by the Russians, was founded by Ukrainian Dmitri Alperovitch (now an American citizen) and funded by Ukrainian oligarch Viktor Pinchuk. The DNC did not turn over the server to the FBI to conduct their own investigation.
Mayor Rudy Giuliani has repeatedly demanded further investigations into the Ukranian effort to assist the DNC dig up political dirt on the president in the 2016 election.