“Did he also mention to me in passing the corruption related to the DNC server? ” Mr. Mulvaney asked, referring to a Democratic National Committee computer server that was supposedly hidden in Ukraine. “Absolutely. No question about that. ” He added, “That’s why we held up the money.” Later that afternoon, Mr. Mulvaney issued a written statement trying to take it back. “Let me be clear, there was absolutely no quid pro quo between Ukrainian military aid and any investigation into the election, ”he wrote. The conflicting statements bolstered Democratic critics, who accused Mr. Trump of abusing his office, and dismayed the president’s Republican defenders, who were
that the aid suspension was not tied to his demands that Ukraine investigate Democrats. House managers prosecuting Mr. Trump in the Senate played Mr. Mulvaney’s comments from the briefing repeatedly as part of their case. Fiona Hill, a former White House aide, told House investigators last fall that Mr. Mulvaney had been involved in arranging a White House visit for President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine that was tied to whether he would conduct the investigations sought by Mr. Trump and his personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani. She testified that Mr. Mulvaney was working with and ordered Ms. Hill to report the matter to a White House lawyer. “I am not part of whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up,” Mr. Bolton told her to tell the lawyer.
Mr. Trump never invested in Mr. Mulvaney enough to take away the “acting” in front of his title, even though Mr. Mulvaney actually served in the corner office more than twice as long as Reince Priebus, the president’s first chief of staff. Mr. Mulvaney brushed off the snub by telling people that everyone in Mr. Trump’s White House was effectively in the job on an acting basis, but the seeming lack of faith or respect invariably made it harder for him to impose authority.
Unlike his predecessor, John F. Kelly, a retired Marine general who left in late , Mr. Mulvaney made a point of not trying to control the famously mercurial president and instead let Mr. Trump be Mr. Trump