White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney acknowledged Wednesday that President Trump held up military aid to Ukraine over a conspiracy theory about the DNC servers hacked by Russians in 2016.
“Did he also mention to me in passing the corruption related to the DNC server? Absolutely,” Mulvaney said at a press conference Thursday. “No question about that.”
“That’s it, and that’s why we held up the money,” Mulvaney said, citing other factors in addition to the DNC server conspiracy.
Trump made reference to the “server” conspiracy in his July 25 call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky.
In a memorandum of the call released by the White House, Trump asked Zelensky for a “favor.”
“I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike,” Trump said, adding: “I guess you have one of your wealthy people … The server, they say Ukraine has it.”
It was a reference to a conspiracy theory that the cybersecurity firm that the DNC hired in 2016 to investigate the hacking of its servers actually manufactured evidence to implicate Russia. Trump appeared to think, on his call with Zelensky, that a DNC server was physically in Ukraine.
“So the demand for an investigation into the Democrats was part of the reason that he ordered to withhold funding to Ukraine?” ABC’s Jonathan Karl asked Mulvaney Thursday.
“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 responded, arguing that Trump’s actions were “absolutely appropriate.”
Karl pressed: “To be clear, what you described is a quid pro quo, it is, funding will not flow unless the investigation into the Democratic server happens as well?”
Mulvaney didn’t deny the characterization.
“We do that all the time with foreign policy,” he said.