Wallace questioned Mulvaney about his statements as well as his and the White House’s subsequent walk back of those remarks in which Mulvaney admitted that President Donald Trump offered a quid pro quo to Ukraine in order for them to receive military funding already approved by Congress.
During his press conference this week, Mulvaney made it clear that part of the quid pro quo expressed by Trump to Ukraine was an investigation into the Democratic Party. On Sunday, Mulvaney told Wallace and the Fox News audience not to believe what they heard him say.
After Wallace asked Mulvaney why he said an investigation into the Democratic Party was included in the quid pro quo, the acting White House chief of staff insisted that he did not say that while admitting “people are saying that is what I said.”
Mulvaney went on to claim that he only mentioned two conditions for the release of military funds. But, as Wallace pointed out, Mulvaney cited “three reasons” on Thursday, one of which included an investigation into the Democratic Party.
Wallace said, “You were asked by [ABC News’] Jonathan Karl, was investigating Democrats one of the conditions for holding up the aid — was that part of the quid pro quo? And you said, ‘It happens all the time.’”
Mulvaney then asked Wallace to watch what he said again and tried to muddy the waters with an extended explanation about what he supposedly meant to say. But an exasperated Wallace was having none of it, telling Mulvaney, “I hate to go through this, but you said what you said.”
Wallace then pointedly told Mulvaney that what he said in the press conference on Thursday wasn’t hard to understand. “The fact is after that exchange with Jonathan Karl, you were asked another time why the aid was held off,” Wallace said. “What were the conditions for the aid? And you didn’t mention two conditions you mentioned three conditions.”
Wallace then showed Mulvaney the video of his contradicting statements, saying, “Let’s listen to all three of them because you stated it very clearly.”
When the clip ended, Wallace said, “Not only did you say that investigating the Democrats was one of the three conditions, not two, that you had just said that you had talked about investigating the Democrats was part of the quid pro. You also said it was part of the Justice Department investigation into the origins of the Russia probe.”
Wallace further drove home his point by noting that the Justice Department released a statement after Mulvaney’s press conference that stated those claims were “news to us.”
Wallace then told Mulvaney, “Everybody thinks that is what you said. And you said right there [in the video clip] three points, not two.”
In response, Mulvaney repeatedly said he never used the term quid pro quo “because there isn’t,” totally ignoring that he had confirmed that it was a quid pro quo when reporters clearly spelled it out during their follow-up questions in the press conference.
What Mulvaney is trying to achieve by denying that he did not say what he clearly said seems to be for the benefit of himself and Trump only. There were reports after his trainwreck of a presser that his job was in jeopardy. And it’s a longstanding Trump strategy to double and triple down on lies, in the hope that someone will buy what he’s selling. Plus, Trump has rarely seen an upside with admitting a wrong. So, at the very least, the president likely respects the game Mulvaney is playing, even if it sounds nonsensical to most.