Mick Mulvaney issued a statement Thursday night distancing himself from earlier remarks made by Mick Mulvaney. The acting White House chief of staff, who astonished lawmakers by acknowledging there had been a quid pro quo with US aid to Ukraine, accused the media of distorting his remarks as part of a "biased and political witch hunt" against President Trump, the Hill reports. Mulvaney, who told reporters at a news conference earlier Thursday that military aid was held up because the administration wanted to pressure Kiev to investigate alleged corruption relating to a 2016 hack of the Democratic National Committee email server, said in his statement: "The president never told me to withhold any money until the Ukrainians did anything related to the server."
When asked during the press conference if there had been a quid pro quo, Mulvaney said: "We do that all the time with foreign policy. ... Get over it." Sources tell the Washington Post that Mulvaney's remarks took other White House officials by surprise and there was a rush to put out a new statement. "Totally inexplicable," one GOP lawmaker says. "He literally said the thing the president and everyone else said did not happen." After Mulvaney's earlier remarks, Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, a key figure in the impeachment inquiry, said "things have gone from very, very bad to much, much worse" for Trump. Republican lawmakers also expressed concerns, CNN reports. "You don't hold up foreign aid that we had previously appropriated for a political initiative," said Sen. Lisa Murkowski. "Period." (Read more Mick Mulvaney stories.)