Who are you going to believe, one of the biggest liars of an administration whose constitutive basis is lying, or your own eyes and ears?
Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said at a news conference Thursday that President Trump withheld nearly $400 million in military aid in part to pressure Ukraine to pursue an investigation that could benefit him politically — acknowledging before the nation a quid pro quo that is at the heart of an impeachment inquiry and that the president and his allies have vigorously denied for weeks.
Mulvaney told reporters that Trump wanted the government in Kyiv to investigate a debunked conspiracy theory that a hacked Democratic National Committee computer server was taken to Ukraine in 2016 to hide evidence that it was that country, not Russia, that interfered in the presidential election.
“Did [Trump] also mention to me in the past the corruption related to the DNC server?” he said. “Absolutely, no question about that. But that’s it, and that’s why we held up the money.”
Mulvaney denied that the aid was also contingent on a Ukrainian investigation of former vice president Joe Biden, or Biden’s son Hunter, another potential quid pro quo that congressional Democrats are looking into as part of the impeachment inquiry.
Mulvaney defended the president’s actions as commonplace and appropriate. “I have news for everybody: Get over it. There’s going to be political influence in foreign policy,” Mulvaney said.
Later, after Trump’s lawyer and other Republicans distanced themselves from Mulvaney, the White House scrambled to walk back his comments, issuing an official statement blaming the media for misconstruing his words “to advance a biased and political witch hunt against President Trump.”
It’s worth noting at this point that ABC’s Jonathan Karl asked a good follow up that specifically asked — using the exact phrase! — if Mulvaney was saying that Trump had made quid pro quo demand, and Mulvaney’s response was that the administration not only did it that time but did it all the time:
“What you described is a quid pro quo,” Karl pressed. “It is: Funding will not flow unless the investigation into the Democrats’ server happens as well.”
“We do that all the time with foreign policy,” Mulvaney answered. “We were holding up money at the same time for, what was it? The Northern Triangle countries. We were holding up aid at the Northern Triangle countries so that they — so that they would change their policies on immigration.”
That sick weasel don’t hunt. This is reflected in the various adminsitration officals who backed away from Mulvaney’s decision to say the quiet parts loud. Even worse for Mulvaney, the administration’s most important decision-makers were furious about Mulvaney’s unprecedented act of truth-telling:
It seemed at least conceivable that Mick Mulvaney might be in danger of losing his dual roles as OMB director and “acting” White House chief of staff following a disastrous press conference on Thursday, during which he admitted the Trump administration held up aide for Ukraine in exchange for political help for President Trump.
To those who may be concerned about the “quid pro quo,” Mulvaney advised them to “get over it.”
But that danger grew far more real after Fox News host Sean Hannity threw Mulvaney under the bus and then drove over him on his afternoon radio show.
“What is Mulvaney even talking about?” Hannity wondered aloud. “I just think he’s dumb, I really do. I don’t even think he knows what he’s talking about. That’s my take on it.”