‘There is going to be political influence in foreign policy…’
(AFP) President Donald Trump’s chief of staff said Thursday that the White House tied military aid to Ukraine investigating a theory that the country helped Democrats in the 2016 presidential election.
Following a precedent set by the Democrats themselves on multiple occasions that paralleled Trump’s request to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, top White House aide Mick Mulvaney told reporters there was nothing wrong with making the so-called quid pro quo, previously denied by the White House.
He said the Justice Department itself was probing the allegation that the Democratic National Committee had hidden a computer server in Ukraine that would undermine claims that Russian meddling helped Trump to election victory three years ago.
Mulvaney said that the nearly $400 million in military support pledged to Ukraine was frozen in July because Trump did not want to send money into a corrupt country.
“Did he also mention to me, in passing, the corruption related to the DNC server? Absolutely. No question about that,” Mulvaney told reporters.
“That’s it, and that’s why we held up the money.”
“We do that all the time with foreign policy,” Mulvaney added. “Get over it. There is going to be political influence in foreign policy.”
Mulvaney placed the aid freeze in the context of the Justice Department probe into the origins of a prior investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, which Trump has repeatedly labelled a “witch hunt” targeting him.
In a July 25 call with Zelensky, Trump raised both the “server” issue and concerns over former Vice President Joe Biden, a potential rival in the 2020 presidential race, whose son Hunter had served on the board of directors of a powerful Ukrainian energy company, Burisma.
“There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son,” Trump said to Zelensky.
Asked if he personally played any role in pressing Kiev to investigate Biden, Mulvaney said “no.”
“I was never in a conversation that had the word ‘Burisma’ in it,” he said.
© Agence France-Presse