Mulvaney clears up last week’s news conference flub, but Chris Wallace refuses to take his word

Screengrab Fox News Sunday

White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney appeared on “Fox News Sunday” to discuss a remark he made last week about Trump saying financial aid to Ukraine depended on the investigation of Democrats — this being interpreted by the anti-Trump media as an admission of quid pro quo.

A remark Mulvaney has already walked back.

“Once again, the media has decided to misconstrue my comments to advance a biased and political witch hunt against President Trump,” he stated afterwards. “Let me be clear, there was absolutely no quid pro quo between Ukrainian military aid and any investigation into the 2016 election.”

Fox News host Chris Wallace was having none of it, grilling the Trump official right out of the gate.

“Here’s my first question,” Wallace said, adding his own take to the initial remarks. “Why did you say in that briefing that President Trump had ordered a quid pro quo — that investigating the Democrats, that aid to Ukraine depended on investigating the Democrats. Why did you say that?”

“Again that’s not what I said,” Mulvaney replied. “That’s what people said that I said. Here’s what I said and I’ll say it again, and hopefully people will listen to this.”

Source: Fox News

He went on to explain that there are two reasons the administration held up aid to Ukraine, one being the rampant corruption in that country and the other being the president was concerned about whether other nations were helping with foreign aid to Ukraine.

Mulvaney then noted that Trump had spoken to him separately about election interference, insisting that wasn’t connected to the aid.

That’s where I think people got sidetracked at the press conference,” he told Wallace.

“I believe that anybody listening to what you said in that briefing could come to only one conclusion,” the Fox News host countered, before running a clip of the news conference.

Again, Mulvaney tried to add more context to the short clip by referencing his comments leading up to that moment, but Wallace didn’t care to expand his focus.

“I can prove it to you,” Mulvaney said of his explanation. “The aid flowed.”

He said once they were satisfied that the problem of corruption was getting better, the money flowed.

“You said what you said,” Wallace interjected.

He then ran a clip of Mulvaney listing three conditions, not two — the third being cooperation with an ongoing Justice Department investigation.

Mulvaney stressed that he never used the term “quid pro quo,” accurately pointing out that was a media creation.

“Reporters will use their language all the time,” he said. “My language never said quid pro quo, but let’s get to the heart of the matter. Go back and look at that list of three things. What was I talking about? Things that were legitimate for the president to do. It’s legitimate for the president to want to know what’s going on it with the ongoing investigation into the [DNC] server. Everybody acknowledges that, at least I think most normal people do. It’s completely legitimate to ask about that. Number two, it’s legitimate to tie the aid to corruption, it’s legitimate to tie the aid to foreign aid to other countries. That’s what I was talking about. Can I see how people looked at that the wrong way? Absolutely. But I never said there was a quid pro quo. There isn’t a quid pro quo.”

Like a true Democrat, Wallace ignored the very thorough, detailed explanation of the point Mulvaney was making to go back to his initial words — seemingly intent on establishing that quid pro quo did indeed exist in the situation.

Acknowledging he may not have spoken clearly last week, Mulvaney said the facts are there to support his explanation, and are backed up by Trump’s call to the Ukrainian president.

I recognize that folks — that I didn’t speak clearly. Maybe on Thursday, folks misinterpreted what I said but the facts are absolutely clear and they are there for everybody to see,” Mulvaney said. 

Wallace continued to focus on Mulvaney’s role in the controversy, bringing in former National Security Advisor John Bolton.

In the end, Mulvaney said the entire controversy is based on Trump’s call to Ukraine and told Wallace to “go look at the transcripts” — which show that there was no quid pro quo.


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