WASHINGTON - The White House admitted Thursday that U.S. President Donald Trump froze $400 million in badly needed military aid to Ukraine to pressure it into investigating Democrats and the 2016 presidential election.
The stunning revelation by acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney came after Trump spent weeks denying there was any quid pro quo with Ukraine.
Mulvaney told reporters at the White House the money for Ukraine was being held up because of Trump’s concerns over corruption in Ukraine and suspicions it was involved in the Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee e-mails in 2016.
The allegation was based on conspiracy theories and has been debunked. Mulvaney defiantly said there will always be political influence over foreign policy and told people to “get over it.”
Mulvaney issued a statement late Thursday attempting to clear up his comments that suggested there was a quid pro quo with Ukraine. “The only reasons we were holding up the money was because of concern about a lack of support from other nations and concerns over corruption.”
Mulvaney accused the media of “misconstruing” what he said to benefit a “biased and political witch hunt” against Trump.
But Democratic Representative Adam Schiff, who is leading the impeachment inquiry into Trump, said “I think Mr. Mulvaney’s acknowledgement means that things have gone from very very bad to much much worse.”
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