A day after remarks by the acting White House Chief of Staff forced officials to scramble and walk back his statement that the U.S. did engage in a quid pro quo to get Ukraine to investigate a GOP election conspiracy theory, President Donald Trump had little to say about the situation on Friday, as some cracks in his support began to appear in GOP circles on Capitol Hill.
Asked about the Thursday briefing by Mick Mulvaney, the President offered up only five words for reporters, before immediately moving on to other topics.
"I think he clarified it," Mr. Trump said of Mulvaney, who basically confirmed the story of an intelligence community whistleblower, by acknowledging that military aid to Ukraine was held back, as the U.S. pressed Ukraine to investigate evidence-free claims that a Democratic Party computer server had been hidden in Ukraine by a U.S. internet security firm.
“That's why we held up the money,” Mulvaney said in the White House Briefing Room.
Mulvaney later accused the press of deliberately mischaracterizing his words.
Even with his later walk back, Mulvaney's confirmation that military aid to Ukraine had been delayed on purpose - along with the plan for the President to host the G7 Summit at his own golf resort in Florida - was too much for some Republicans.
Notable @PoppyHarlowCNN interview with Rep. Francis Rooney (R-FL). He ran campaign ads on building a "big" border wall and ending sanctuary cities. But he won't rule out impeachment after yesterday.— Matt Shuham (@mattshuham) October 18, 2019
"We’re not supposed to use government power and prestige for political gain." pic.twitter.com/LFTZkWEy7L
On conservative talk radio, Mulvaney was blistered as well.
"I don't even think he knows what he's talking about," Sean Hannity said on his Friday radio program. "I just think he's dumb."
Meanwhile Democrats said Mulvaney had confirmed why there needed to be an investigation.
When the dust settles on this bonkers week, this remains:— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) October 18, 2019
The President’s chief of staff publicly admitted Trump withheld security aid from Ukraine unless they helped him undermine Hillary Clinton.
The literal definition of an aid-for-political help quid pro quo.
“This is about the president systematically abusing the power and resources of his office,” said Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN).