Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday that he “never saw” quid pro quo as a factor in the Trump administration’s decision to freeze aid to Ukraine, despite acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney’s confirmation that it was.
ABC News’ “This Week” host George Stephanopoulos relayed to Pompeo Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s (R-AK) criticism of Mulvaney’s comments, of which she said: “You don’t hold up foreign aid that we had previously appropriated for a political initiative, period.”
“George, I never saw that in the decision-making process that I was a part of, the decision surrounding whether there should be Department of Defense assistance, as well as some State Department assistance, provided to push back against Russia,” Pompeo said on Sunday.
“The conversation was always around, ‘What were the strategic implications?'” he continued. “‘Would that money get to the right place, or would there be corruption in Ukraine, and the money wouldn’t flow to the mission that it was intended for?'”
Stephanopoulos pointed out the remarks Mulvaney made during his presser last week, during which he outright told reporters that Trump had delayed military aid to Ukraine to get the Ukranian government to investigate his political rivals and that seeking political assistance from foreign governments is normal (Mulvaney later backtracked and insisted that people had “misinterpreted” what he said).
“I–I will leave to the chief of staff to explain what it is he said and what he intended,” Pompeo said in response. “I can speak clearly to what America’s strategic objectives were in providing this defensive weapons–weaponry to the people of Ukraine.”
When Stephanopoulos pressed Pompeo on Mulvaney’s comments, the secretary of state kept repeating that he would only say “what I was involved with” and that he wouldn’t “get into hypotheticals.”
“I’m telling you what I saw transpiring and how President Trump was working to make the evaluation about whether it was appropriate to provide this assistance,” Pompeo said.
Watch Pompeo below:
Pompeo: "I never saw" Ukraine being withheld for political purposes "in the decision making process that I was a part of" pic.twitter.com/ruVyf7ti6C
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) October 20, 2019