Mick Mulvaney Briefing Transcript: “Get Over It” Regarding Ukraine Quid Pro Quo
White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney held a press briefing at the White House today, October 17, 2019 and addressed the Ukraine political probe involving Donald Trump. He was asked about the quid pro quo, and Mulvaney responded that the press should “get over it” and that “it happens all the time.” Read the full transcript of his press briefing right here.
Mick Mulvaney: (00:00)
[crosstalk 00:00:00]. Hey guys.
Mick Mulvaney: (00:24)
How are y’all? First things first, going to comment very briefly on Mr. Cummings passing. For those of you who know, I was in Congress for a couple of years with Mr. Cummings and on the committee with him. I had a chance to work with him on a day in, day out basis. He will be missed. He a classy guy, and I enjoyed him very much working with him. The condolences from my family and all of the White House group to his family today. He will be sorely missed.
Mick Mulvaney: (00:52)
Now, getting onto the business at hand, I understand it’s been a fairly slow news week, so I thought we’d introduce a couple of things. I did want to come out here with my Nationals hat on, but they told me that that would violate some type of rules, so I couldn’t do that. I was also going to wear my Montreal Expos hat, and then they said that would be foreign interference in the World Series, so we can’t do that either.
Mick Mulvaney: (01:09)
We’re going to talk about the G7. We talked about where we’re going to do it. We’re going to announce today that we’re going to do the 46th G7 Summit on June 10th through June 12th at the Trump National Doral facility in Miami, Florida. The focus of the event will be global growth and challenges to the global economy. Specifically we’re dealing with things like rejuvenating incentives for growth and prosperity, rolling back prosperity-killing regulations, ending trade barriers and reopening energy markets. So taking a lot of what we have been doing here domestically with such success and trying to encourage the rest of the world to get on board.
Mick Mulvaney: (01:48)
As we sit here and our economy does so well, you look all across the world right now and the rest of the world is either at or near recession. We really do think that we have hit on a formula that works not only here, but that would work overseas. We’re going to take the G7 as the opportunity to try and convince other nations that they can have the same successes by following the same model.
Mick Mulvaney: (02:09)
Now, let’s talk about the site selection process because I know you folks will have some questions about that. How do we go about doing this? First of all, we use a lot of the same criteria that have been used by past administrations. There’s a long list of the accommodations on site, the ballrooms, bilateral rooms, the number of rooms, the photo ops, the support hotels that are there, the proximity to cities and airports, helicopter landing zones, medical facilities, etc.
Mick Mulvaney: (02:33)
We use the same set of criteria that previous administrations have used. We started with a list of about a dozen just on paper. We sent an advanced team out to actually visit 10 locations in several states. We’ve visited California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Michigan, North Carolina, Tennessee and Utah. We got that list down to just under 10. The advanced team went out to visit those,, and from there, we got down to four finalists that our senior team went out to look at.
Mick Mulvaney: (03:05)
They looked at… I think it was one in Hawaii, two in Utah and then the Mar-a-Lago facility in Florida. It became apparent at the end of that process that Doral was by far and away, far and away, the best physical facility for this meeting. In fact, I was talking to one of the advanced teams when they came back, and I said, “What was it like?” He said, “Mick, you’re not going to believe this, but it’s almost like they built this facility to host this type of event.” If any of you have been there, you know that there’s separate buildings with their own rooms separate and apart from each building, so that one country could have a building, another country could have another. You folks could have your building for the press and obviously the common areas are going to be perfect for our needs down there.
Mick Mulvaney: (03:49)
Again, anticipating your questions. “How is this not an emoluments violation? Is the president going to profit from this?” I think the president has pretty much made it very clear, since he’s got here, that he doesn’t profit from being here. He has no interest in profit from being here. It’s one of the reasons that he’s not taken a salary since he’s been here, has given that salary to charity. Will not be profiting here. We had talked about the possibility of whether or not the president could actually do it at no cost. I understand there’s difficulties with doing it that way, but we’ll also have difficulties obviously if they charge market rates. So doing this at cost, as a result, is actually going to be dramatically cheaper for us to do it at Doral compared to the other final sites that we had.
Mick Mulvaney: (04:33)
We’re looking forward to that meeting, again, June 10th through 12th of next year for the 46th G7. Now, my guess is with that official part of the briefing finished, there’s going to be some questions about a variety of things that are going on in the world. So if we can do something together, that would be great. Can we take the questions about the G7 first, go through those and then we’ll take a chance to maybe ask a couple of questions about the other stuff before the end of the day. Eamon?
Yeah, thank you [inaudible 00:05:02]. How is this not just an enormous conflict of interest for the president to host the G7 at his own resort, and how will the president continue to criticize the Biden family for self dealing at the same time he’s doing this?
Mick Mulvaney: (05:15)
Okay. A couple of different things. First off, you’re not making any profit then. I think we’ve already established that. I think some-
It’s a marketing and branding opportunity [crosstalk 00:05:22].
Mick Mulvaney: (05:21)
It’s a huge… I’ve heard that before. I guess I’ve been the chief now for about nine or 10 months, and I always hear it. Whenever we go to Mar-a-Lago, it’s a huge branding opportunity. Whenever he plays at Trump Mar-a-Lago, we play golf at Trump Bedminster, he goes to play golf at Trump up in Sterling and everybody asks the question, “Is it not a huge marketing opportunity?” I would simply ask you all to consider the possibility that Donald Trump’s brand is probably strong enough as it is, and he doesn’t need any more help on that. This is not like it’s-
Mick Mulvaney: (05:48)
It’s the most recognizable name in the English language and probably around the world right now. So, no, that has nothing to do with it. Listen, I was skeptical. I was. I was aware of the political criticism that we’d come under for doing it at Doral, which is why I was so surprised when the advanced team called back and said that this was the perfect physical location to do this. I get the criticisms, so does he. Face it, he’d be criticized regardless of what he chose to do, but, no, there’s no issue here on him profiting from this in any way, shape or form.
Mick Mulvaney: (06:18)
What’s the difference between this and what we’re talking about? The Bidens? Well, first of all, there’s no profit here. Clearly there’s profit to the Bidens. Second of all, I think if there’s one difference as you look at between the Trump family and the Biden family, Trump family made their money before they went into politics. That’s a big difference. Yes sir.
Speaker 4: (06:36)
You said it’s going to be done at cost. Do you have any idea of cost estimate how much money you’re looking at and also will it remain a G7 or do you envision Russia [inaudible 00:06:43]?
Mick Mulvaney: (06:43)
I don’t have the numbers in terms of the cost. I do know that it was… One of the ones I saw was it was almost half as much here. I don’t want to butcher the numbers, but it was millions of dollars cheaper by doing it at Doral than it was at another facility and that was roughly 50% savings.
Mick Mulvaney: (06:59)
As to the G7, G8, look, that that discussion is ongoing. The president has been very candid about that, about whether or not he wants to have Russia join the G7 again. They used to be members of that organization. I think he’s been fairly straight forward not only to you folks, but to other leaders around the world, which is we go to the G7 and what dominates so much of the discussion? Russia, Russian energy, Russian military policy, the Russian economy. It dominates a lot of the discussion. Wouldn’t it be better to have them inside as part of those conversations? But I think that decision will be made later, and we’ll continue to review it. Yes ma’am.
Speaker 5: (07:36)
Thank you very much. G7 summits have been held for decades, so how can you make the argument that this is the best place to hold it? Surely there were other places that this could be held. You can’t make the argument that the president’s not going to profit because we can’t know how much he might profit in the future, right?
Mick Mulvaney: (07:53)
Yeah. To your first point, again, I think I [inaudible 00:07:57] the profit one. Again, he’s not making any money off of this, just like he’s not making money from working here. If you think it’s going to help his brand, that’s great, but I would suggest that he probably doesn’t need much help promoting his brand. We’ll put the profit one aside and deal with a perfect place. I mean who was here for the last time it was at Camp David? Was that the perfect place? In fact, I understand the folks who participated in it hated it and thought it was a miserable place to have the G7. It was way too small. It was way too remote. My understanding is the media didn’t like it because you had to drive an hour and a bus to get there either way.
Speaker 5: (08:26)
I take your point, but there have been other G7 summits. I’ve attended numerous G7 summits that have been [crosstalk 00:08:32] fine according to the leaders who’ve attended them.
Mick Mulvaney: (08:34)
We looked at-
Speaker 5: (08:35)
How can the White House really make the argument that this was the only place that the G7 summit could [crosstalk 00:08:39]?
Mick Mulvaney: (08:39)
It’s not the only place. It’s the best place. Those are two different things, but we had dates.
Speaker 5: (08:46)
There has to be other good places without the president’s name on them.
Mick Mulvaney: (08:46)
There’s plenty of other good places in this country to hold a large event. There’s no question about it. Some of the limitations, we wanted a specific time. We wanted it in early June, so that limits it a little bit. Then there’s difficulties with going various places. Some places don’t have the transportation that you need. I mean there was one place… I won’t say where it was… where we actually had to figure out if we were going to have to have oxygen tanks for the participants because of the altitude. So yeah, there’s limitations at other places. We thought of the 12 places that we looked at… And you’d recognize the names of them if we told you what they were… that this was by far and away the best choice. Yes ma’am.
Speaker 5: (09:17)
Very quickly. This is a business of optics. How is the president going to stand on a debate stage, if in fact Vice President Biden wins the nomination and try to make an argument that he profited off of his vice presidency, or his family did, when he’s hosting the G7-
Mick Mulvaney: (09:30)
He’s going to do that extraordinarily well. Yes, ma’am.
Speaker 6: (09:33)
[crosstalk 00:09:33]. You were talking about how this is the best place or one of the best places to have this, so is this going to be self-contained just at Doral? Are there other hotel rooms do you think you’ll have to get or is there anywhere else that you’ll have to [crosstalk 00:09:47]?
Mick Mulvaney: (09:48)
I understand that one of the advantages that the advanced team came back with about Doral was the fact that it could be sequestered off from the rest of the city and that nearly all or all of the operations could be on that one piece of property. I think the president said there’s almost 900 acres there, so it’s a huge facility with a lot of open space. I think there’s three golf courses. There’s a lot of space available to us and we do anticipate the entire thing being on that campus.
Speaker 6: (10:14)
Including hotels? They’ve talked about additional hotel rooms. Do you think you’ll have to get additional hotels involved in that?
Mick Mulvaney: (10:23)
I’m not sure about the… When we talk about the delegations… For example, when we went to Biarritz, I think we were at two or three different hotels around that city. That would not be the case here. The American delegation would stay on campus. The British delegation will stay on campus. The Germans will stay on campus whether. And you folks will be there. Whether or not there’ll be other folks who are using hotel rooms in the Miami area, I can’t speak to that.
Speaker 6: (10:46)
Then I have a quick question about local authorities. What local authorities have you been in contact with about this?
Mick Mulvaney: (10:51)
Yeah, I haven’t answered that question, but we do that as part of… The advanced team will do that with each of the groups that we work with, but I’m not familiar with those. Yes, ma’am.
Speaker 7: (10:58)
Speaker 8: (10:58)
A video shown last weekend at that resort… Actually a doctored video showed the president killing members of the news media and his political opponents. Why do you think he hasn’t spoken directly about the sentiment behind that video?
Mick Mulvaney: (11:10)
Have you asked him?
Speaker 8: (11:12)
Speaker 13: (11:13)
Mick Mulvaney: (11:15)
Oh, but we put out a statement. You had a chance to ask him that question yesterday, and you asked him something else, which is fine, but-
Speaker 13: (11:21)
But different interviews, he’s been asked multiple times and he hasn’t responded.
Mick Mulvaney: (11:22)
Hold on a sec. Hold on a second. Her question was why he hasn’t answered. We did as a White House. We listened to that. We didn’t like that. I think we condemn that.
Speaker 8: (11:30)
He’s the [crosstalk 00:11:30].
He’s the president. He has a Twitter account with 65 million followers. [crosstalk 00:11:32].
Mick Mulvaney: (11:32)
We didn’t. We did not.
What has the president said about [crosstalk 00:11:34].
Mick Mulvaney: (11:34)
Did you think that we would?
I mean it doesn’t sound like a very strong condemnation.
Mick Mulvaney: (11:37)
Oh, come on John. It was awful. I mean I never seen the movie. No, no, that has no place here. I think we’ve condemned that.
Speaker 9: (11:45)
Has he watched the video?
Mick Mulvaney: (11:45)
I don’t know if he’s seen it or not. I have.
Speaker 11: (11:47)
Will the president come before the cameras and say the same?
Speaker 10: (11:53)
Speaker 14: (11:53)
Will the president come from the cameras and say the same thing?
Speaker 12: (11:54)
I understand that you’re trying to put it in a place that you think is the best and maybe save the taxpayers some money, which is important for all of us, but sometimes, because of the appearance of impropriety, you don’t make that call. Can you at least understand and acknowledge that the just the appearance of impropriety makes this wince inducing and maybe this is something that you want to reconsider? How did that conversation go in the room?
Mick Mulvaney: (12:21)
The president knows that. We know the environment we live in. Y’all know the environment that we live in. He knows exactly that he’s going to get these questions and exactly get that reaction from a lot of people. And he’s simply saying, “Okay. That’s fine. I’m willing to take that.” The same way he takes it when he goes to Trump Mar-a-Lago, the same place when he goes to play Trump Bedminster. He got over that a long time ago. We absolutely believe this is the best place to have it. We’re going to have it there, and there’s going to be folks who will never get over the fact that it’s a Trump property. We get that, but we’re still going to go there. Yes, ma’am.
Speaker 15: (12:50)
Thank you, Mr. Mulvaney. Aside from what your advanced team did to look for the perfect place, what role did the president play in selecting Doral including getting it on the initial list of 10 or 12 places in the first place?
Mick Mulvaney: (13:04)
Yeah, I think that’s a fair question. We sat around one night. We were back in the dining room going over with a couple of our advanced team. We had the list, and he goes, “What about Doral?” It was like, “That’s not the craziest idea.”
Speaker 15: (13:14)
So he’s the one that initially brought it up.
Mick Mulvaney: (13:14)
It makes perfect sense. We’re all familiar with it, so it’s not like he said, “Oh, this is what Doral is. I have to explain.” He said, no, “What about Doral?” Like, “You know what? That’s not the craziest idea we ever heard.” We said [inaudible 00:13:24] would go look at it. Yes sir.
Speaker 16: (13:25)
Yes, thanks Mick. I wanted to ask you about… as it relates to this decision that you’ve made. Couldn’t the president simply, as the host country, invite President Putin to represent Russia at the G7?
Mick Mulvaney: (13:41)
Yeah, I think we can. As I understood how the G7 works, there’ll be other leaders there anyway. For example, I met with Scott Morrison, the Prime Minister of Australia at the G7 even though they’re not there. I assume he came at the invite of President Macron and we could do the same thing. I think the question I got originally was turning it from the G7 into the G8.
Speaker 19: (13:59)
Speaker 16: (14:00)
My question was could he simply invite President Putin to attend?
Mick Mulvaney: (14:03)
I think he probably… Yes, if-
Mick Mulvaney: (14:03)
Reporter (M): (14:03)
The question was could he simply invite President Putin to attend?
Mick Mulvaney: (14:03)
I think he probably … Yes. Your question is, can he physically do that? Yeah. I think he can.
Reporter (M): (14:06)
No, it’s not whether he can … Of course he can. He’s president. But would he consider doing that?
Mick Mulvaney: (14:10)
It’s not come up. I think the conversation we’ve had about whether or not we’d turn it from the G7 to the G8, that could be an intermediate step. Yes, sir.
Reporter (M): (14:18)
You mentioned that the president is willing to take the criticism on this, but what about the country itself? Is there any value to sending a message to the world, especially given that all that’s happened with foreign interference and attempts at foreign interference in our country, that this president in this country is not open for the kind of self-dealing that happens in other countries? Is that not an important message to send when you’re inviting the world to come here to the United States?
Mick Mulvaney: (14:44)
No. What’s your question?
Reporter (F): (14:45)
I have a non-G7 question.
Reporter (M): (14:49)
Yeah, so do I. [crosstalk 00:14:50]
Mick Mulvaney: (14:49)
Any last G7 questions?
Reporter (M): (14:51)
I got one more.
Reporter (M): (14:52)
About the G7 [crosstalk 00:14:53] a couple of things. When you say it’s the best property for this to take place, the first question is, why has no other G7 ever been held there before?
Mick Mulvaney: (14:59)
Because they didn’t go look at it. I don’t know. Why do they have it at Camp David? I mean, seriously. For those of you who were there, I’m a little bit familiar with it. I’ve talked to the folks up at Camp David because I was up there recently and asked. I said, “Didn’t you guys hope…” I think it was a G8 back then. 2004? Something like that. And they said it was a complete disaster. Okay. Wonder how that happened. How did that decision get made?
Reporter (M): (15:18)
Last G7 question, then, if I can. You were talking about this video where the president was seen shooting members of the media and others that was played at the Doral property there. Said, “We haven’t had the chance to ask him that question yet,” which we have. But, broadly, the president has tweeted 45,000 times. 45,000 times. How come the president hasn’t used that Twitter account to more than 60 million followers to condemn it? You’re his chief of staff.
Mick Mulvaney: (15:39)
Yeah, the White House put out a statement about it.
Reporter (M): (15:42)
[crosstalk 00:15:42] because he’s tweeted 45,000 times.
Mick Mulvaney: (15:43)
I’ll tell you what. The next time you ask him … Again, it’s not like the man hides from you folks. Okay? I think he’s done almost a hundred face-to-face interviews with you. Anybody else on G7?
Reporter (M): (15:54)
Is there any precedent in your studying of the G7 of a G7 Summit being held at a property owned by the president or a president? And my second question is, as you’re looking at the content of what you want to do next year, it’s probably going to be hot in Florida in June. Will climate change be one of the issues that you discuss?
Mick Mulvaney: (16:14)
The first question is no. I don’t know if another president’s ever owned a property that was even considered for G7. So, no. I don’t know the answer to that question. Climate change will not be on the agenda. Yes, sir?
Reporter (M): (16:27)
Thank you. President Trump has called for the exposure of the whistleblower on Ukraine.
Mick Mulvaney: (16:32)
Are we done on G7, then? Is that the collective will? I got one gentleman. Yes, sir. Go ahead. Last one on G7.
Reporter (M): (16:38)
Well, you began your remarks talking about the passing [inaudible 00:00:16:40].
Mick Mulvaney: (16:41)
Reporter (M): (16:41)
Just to show the American people that this is above board, are you going to share documents that show how you arrived at this decision with the Congress?
Mick Mulvaney: (16:47)
No, but I would imagine we would share a dollar figures with you afterwards. That’s ordinary course of business.
Reporter (M): (16:55)
[inaudible 00:16:55] that shows the merits of the facility?
Mick Mulvaney: (16:56)
By the way, and you’re going to get this answer a lot. Okay? I don’t talk about how this place runs on the inside. So if you ask us, if you want to see our paper on how we did this, the answer is absolutely not. Yes, sir.
Reporter (M): (17:08)
Yes. There will almost certainly be a house judiciary committee hearing about this site selection.
Mick Mulvaney: (17:14)
Do you think so?
Reporter (M): (17:14)
Jerry Nadler has already talked about that.
Mick Mulvaney: (17:17)
Do you really think so? Do you think they have time to do that?
Reporter (M): (17:20)
Yeah. Will the administration participate, cooperate with that?
Mick Mulvaney: (17:24)
By the way, that’s a fascinating question. I’d not thought that this would prompt a judiciary committee investigation. And on one hand I’m thinking to myself, they don’t have time to do it because they’re too busy doing impeachment. And then I think to myself, no, this is entirely consistent with how they spent the first 18 months in office, right? Or 12 months. However long they’ve been here. I guess it’s been a year, right? That, yeah, they’d rather do that than talk about tax policy, then talk about drug policy, then talk about opioids, talk about healthcare. So that’s a fascinating question.
Mick Mulvaney: (17:56)
I don’t know if there will be a judiciary committee inquiry into this. My guess is there probably will be and we’ll look forward to participating in it. These are all G7 questions now? Okay, now we’re moving onto something else. [crosstalk 00:18:09] Who hasn’t asked … John Carl has not asked a question yet.
Reporter (M): (18:11)
So actually a clarification on your first statement on the G7, you said five finalists and you said Mar-a-Lago was one of the finalists?
Mick Mulvaney: (18:19)
Yeah. Four finalists, I think. We started with 12 on sort of a list with … The team visited. Sort of a first team visited 10 of those and I think identified the states. We then got our senior team down and they visited four, of which Mar-a-Lago was one. There was one in Hawaii and two in Utah.
Reporter (M): (18:40)
So you’re telling me that in the entire United States you came down to four finalists and two of them were Trump properties?
Mick Mulvaney: (18:44)
Reporter (M): (18:45)
You said Mar-A-Lago.
Mick Mulvaney: (18:47)
I’m sorry. I’m sorry. No. I’m sorry, John. Doral. Doral. Doral. Yes. I’m sorry. [crosstalk 00:18:51] Yes. No. [crosstalk 00:18:53] No. Mar-a-Lago was not involved. Mar-a-Lago was not close to being sufficient for the G7. I’m sorry.
Reporter (M): (18:57)
Thank you for clarifying.
Mick Mulvaney: (18:58)
If I said Mar-a-Lago about where we visited, it was Doral. I apologize.
Reporter (M): (19:03)
So for the question of Ukraine.
Mick Mulvaney: (19:07)
Reporter (M): (19:07)
Can you clarify, and I’ve been trying to get an answer to this. Was the president serious when he said that he would also like to see China investigate the Bidens? And you were directly involved in the decision to withhold funding from Ukraine. Can you explain to us now definitively why? Why was funding withheld?
Mick Mulvaney: (19:31)
Sure. Let’s deal with the second one first, which is, look, it should come as no surprise to anybody. The last time I was up here … I haven’t done this since I was chief of staff. Right? Last time I was up here, some of you folks remember it was for the budget briefings. Right? And one of the questions you all always ask me about the budget is what are you all doing to the foreign aid budget? Because we absolutely gutted it. President Trump is not a big fan of foreign aid. Never has been. Still isn’t. Doesn’t like spending money overseas, especially when it’s poorly spent. And that is exactly what drove this decision. I’ve been in the office a couple times with him talking about this and he said, “Look Mick, this is a corrupt place.” Everybody knows it’s a corrupt place.
Mick Mulvaney: (20:12)
By the way, put this in context. This is on the heels of what happened in Puerto Rico when we took a lot of heat for not wanting to give a bunch of aid to Puerto Rico because we thought that place was corrupt. And by the way it turns out we were right. All right. So put that as your context. He’s like, “Look, this is a corrupt place. I don’t want to send them a bunch of money and have them waste it, have them spend it, have them use it to line their own pockets.” Plus I’m not sure that the other European countries are helping them out either. So we actually looked at that during that time before. When we cut the money off, before the money actually flowed, because the money flowed by the end of the fiscal year, we actually did an analysis of what other countries were doing in terms of supporting Ukraine. And what we found out was that, and I can’t remember if it’s zero or near zero dollars from any European countries for lethal aid. You’ve heard the president say this, that we give them tanks and the other countries give them pillows. That’s absolutely right that as vocal as the Europeans are about supporting Ukraine, they are really, really stingy when it comes to lethal aid. And they weren’t helping Ukraine and still to this day are not.
Mick Mulvaney: (21:09)
And the president did not like that. I know [inaudible 00:21:11] long answer your question, but I’m still going. So those were the driving factors. Did he also mention to me in the past, the corruption related to the DNC server? Absolutely. No question about that. But that’s it. And that’s why we held up the money.
Mick Mulvaney: (21:25)
Now there was a report-
Reporter (M): (21:27)
So the demand for an investigation into the Democrats was part of the reason that he ordered to withhold funding to Ukraine?
Mick Mulvaney: (21:34)
The look back to what happened in 2016 certainly was part of the thing that he was worried about in corruption with that nation. And that is absolutely appropriate.
Reporter (M): (21:42)
Withholding the funding?
Mick Mulvaney: (21:43)
Yeah. Which ultimately then flowed. By the way, there was a report that we were worried that if we didn’t pay out the money, it would be illegal. Okay. It would be unlawful. That is one of those things that has that little shred of truth in it that makes it look a lot worse than it really is. We were concerned about over at OMB about an impoundment, and I know I’ve just put half of you folks to bed, but Budget Control Impoundment Act of 1974 says if Congress appropriates money, you have to spend it. Okay. At least that’s how it’s interpreted by some folks. And we knew that that money either had to go out the door by the end of September or we had to have a really, really good reason not to do it. And that was the legality of the issue.
Reporter (M): (22:25)
But to be clear, what you just described is a quid pro quo. It is funding will not flow unless the investigation into into the Democratic server happened as well.
Mick Mulvaney: (22:35)
We do that all the time with foreign policy. 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 would change their policies on immigration. By the way, and this speaks to an important … I’m sorry? This speaks to important point because I heard this yesterday and I can never remember the gentleman who … Was it McKinney? Is that his name? I don’t know him. He testified yesterday. And if you go and if you believe the news reports, because we’ve not seen any transcripts of this. The only transcript I’ve seen was Sondland’s testimony this morning.
Mick Mulvaney: (23:08)
If you read the news reports and you believe them, what did McKinney say yesterday? Well, McKinney said yesterday that he was really upset with the political influence in foreign policy. That was one of the reasons he was so upset about this. And I have news for everybody. Get over it. There’s going to be political influence in foreign policy.
Reporter (M): (23:25)
What about the Bidens?
Mick Mulvaney: (23:26)
I’m talking to Mr. Carl. That is going to happen. Elections have consequences and foreign policy is going to change from the Obama Administration to the Trump Administration. And what you’re seeing now I believe is a group of mostly career bureaucrats who are saying, “You know what? I don’t like president Trump’s politics, so I’m going to participate in this witch hunt that they’re undertaking on the hill.” Elections do have consequences and they should. And your foreign policy is going to change. Obama did it in one way. We’re doing it a different way and there is no problem with that. [crosstalk 00:23:55] Yes, sir.
Reporter (M): (23:56)
What about the Bidens though, Mr. Mulvaney? Does that come into consideration when that-
Mick Mulvaney: (24:00)
I’m sorry, I don’t know your name, but he’s being very rude. So you go ahead and ask your question.
Reporter (F): (24:04)
Just to clarify and just to follow up on that question. So when you’re saying that politics is going to be involved, the question here is not just about political decisions about how you want to run the government. This is about investigating political opponents. Are you saying that [crosstalk 00:24:25]-
Mick Mulvaney: (24:22)
The DNC server.
Reporter (F): (24:24)
Are you saying that it’s okay for the US government to hold up aid and require a foreign government to investigate political opponents of the president?
Mick Mulvaney: (24:35)
No, you’re talking about looking forward to the next election. We’re talking-
Reporter (F): (24:38)
Even the DNC. The DNC is still involved in this next election. Is that not correct?
Mick Mulvaney: (24:42)
So wait a second. So this-
Reporter (F): (24:43)
So are you saying you’re asking to investigate the DNC, right?
Mick Mulvaney: (24:44)
Hold on a second. Let me ask you … Let’s look at this.
Reporter (F): (24:46)
Is the DNC political [crosstalk 00:10:49]-
Mick Mulvaney: (24:49)
There’s an ongoing investigation by our Department Of Justice into the 2016 election. I can’t remember the person’s name. Durham. Durham. Okay. That’s an ongoing investigation, right? So you’re saying the president of the United States, the chief law enforcement person cannot ask somebody to cooperate with an ongoing public investigation into wrongdoing? That’s just bizarre to me that you would think that you can’t do that.
Reporter (F): (25:14)
And so you would say that it’s fine to ask about the DNC, but not about Biden. So Biden is now running for the Democratic nomination, right? That’s for 2020. So are you [crosstalk 00:25:27]-
Mick Mulvaney: (25:26)
That’s a hypothetical because that did not happen here. But I would ask you-
Reporter (F): (25:30)
No. No. On the call the president did ask about investigating the Bidens. Are you saying that the money that was held up, that that had nothing to do with the Bidens?
Mick Mulvaney: (25:40)
No. The money held up had absolutely nothing to do with Biden. There’s no question. That was the point I made to you.
Reporter (F): (25:44)
And you’re drawing the distinction. You’re saying that it would be wrong to hold up money for the Bidens?
Mick Mulvaney: (25:46)
There were three factors. Again, I was involved with the process by which the money was held up temporarily. Okay. Three issues for that. The corruption in the country, whether or not other countries were participating in the support of the Ukraine, and whether or not they were cooperating in an ongoing investigation with our Department Of Justice. That’s completely legitimate. Yes, sir. [crosstalk 00:26:06]
Reporter (M): (26:08)
Regarding the secretary over at the state department, the deputy assistant secretary for European and Eurasian affairs, George Kent, reportedly testified that you asked him to step down from any issues regarding Ukraine. Is that true? Do you-
Mick Mulvaney: (26:28)
Who said that?
Reporter (M): (26:29)
It was George Kent.
Mick Mulvaney: (26:31)
I’m sorry. I don’t know who that is. Is that somebody who testified this week?
Reporter (M): (26:34)
Mick Mulvaney: (26:35)
I don’t believe I’ve ever talked to anybody named George Kent in my life, nor have I asked anybody to resign their position over this.
Reporter (M): (26:41)
Okay. And also another thing is that there have been reports that you had been conducting a review of the phone call with Vladmir Zelensky, Ukrainian president. And the question is is that true? Do you do acknowledge that you’ve been conducting that review or was the call just perfect as the president has …
Mick Mulvaney: (27:10)
Again, no one here had any difficulty with the call. We do think the call is perfect. We don’t think there’s any difficulty with the call at all. I’ve read it several times. By the way, was not on the call. I have somebody in my office was on the call. No one raised any difficulty with me on the call at all. I understand that in fact, no one on the call and here thought there was any difficulty with it. Let’s get to your point about what we’re doing inside.
Reporter (M): (27:30)
So was this an attempt to actually uncover the whistleblower? Was that [crosstalk 00:27:35]-
Mick Mulvaney: (27:34)
No. No. Here’s what it is. Look, if you’re having the House do what they’re going to do, doesn’t it simply make sense for us to sort of try and find out what happened? This is one of the questions I don’t understand from you folks that we get all the time, which is some of you have criticized us for having a war room. Okay? Which we don’t, by the way. You don’t have a war room when you haven’t done anything wrong. Clinton certainly had a war room. I think Nixon did. But they actually did something wrong. We didn’t. So we don’t have a war room. But at the same time, then when we-
Mick Mulvaney: (28:03)
… did something wrong. We didn’t. So we don’t have a war room, but at the same time, then when we say that, you say, “Well, you’re not taking it seriously.” Yeah, we are. I mean, we do. It’s part of what we do. Look, when you work for the Trump administration, you’re used to this kind of attention, right? We know how to do this. And we do this and we’re preparing for it. Yes, we’re having lawyers look at it. Yes, we’re having our PR people looking at it. If we weren’t doing that, we would be committing malpractice. But I don’t think there’s anything extraordinary that we’re doing. We’ve been dealing with oversight from the Democrats since they took office. In fact, it’s all we’ve been dealing with the Democrats since they took office because we certainly haven’t been doing much legislating since they’ve been here.
Mick Mulvaney: (28:35)
Yes, ma’am? I’m trying to get folks who haven’t asked a question yet.
Reporter 1 (F): (28:37)
Chief, in light of the depositions that we’ve heard, do you believe that Rudy Giuliani’s role as an outside advisor to the president is problematic?
Mick Mulvaney: (28:46)
That’s the president’s call. Steve Scalise got asked a similar question today on television. I thought his answer was great, which is, look, you may not like the fact… In fact, I understand from reading his opening testimony that Gordon Sondlund didn’t like the fact that Giuliani was involved and said that in his testimony. Okay, that’s great. You may not like the fact that Giuliani was involved. That’s great. That’s fine. It’s not illegal. It’s not impeachable. The president gets to use who he wants to use. The president wants to fire me today and hire somebody else, he can.
Reporter 1 (F): (29:14)
Even if [crosstalk 00:29:14] from the actual-
Mick Mulvaney: (29:14)
The president gets to set foreign policy and he gets to choose who to do so. As long as it doesn’t violate any law, okay, he doesn’t violate any laws regarding confidential information or classified material, anything like that, the president gets to use who he wants do it.
Reporter 1 (F): (29:26)
To follow-up on that, [crosstalk 00:29:27] Mr. Mulvaney-
Mick Mulvaney: (29:26)
Reporter 1 (F): (29:29)
Did the president direct you or anyone else to work with Rudy Giuliani on Ukraine?
Mick Mulvaney: (29:35)
Yeah. The… When was it? There was the May meeting. And I think this has been widely reported. In fact, I think Sondlund mentioned it in his testimony, and I’m pretty sure that Rick Perry mentioned in his interview yesterday with The Wall Street Journal, that in the May meeting in the Oval Office that I was in, and I think Senator Johnson was there as well as Mr. Volker was there, the president asked Rick Perry to work with Mr. Giuliani.
Reporter 1 (F): (29:59)
And did you think that that was appropriate when you were asked as well?
Mick Mulvaney: (30:02)
I wasn’t asked.
Reporter 1 (F): (30:03)
You were not asked. That was my question. Were you or anyone else asked?
Mick Mulvaney: (30:07)
And I think the answer to your question is-
Reporter 1 (F): (30:08)
So you were not asked. Just for [crosstalk 00:30:10].
Mick Mulvaney: (30:09)
The president told Rick Perry who I think was sort of… One of the reasons they were in the office, to talk about energy. We were very interested in trying to get Ukraine as an energy partner. That’s why Mr. Perry, Secretary Perry was so heavily involved. That’s when the president said to Mr. Perry, “Yeah, go ahead and talk to Rudy.”
Mick Mulvaney: (30:27)
Yes. You haven’t asked a question yet. Yes.
Reporter 2 (F): (30:33)
… shadow foreign policy. [crosstalk 00:30:33]-
Mick Mulvaney: (30:35)
Wait, hold it. “Shadow foreign policy”? Look, that’s a term you’re using. That’s a pejorative. That’s… What is a “shadow foreign policy”? The president asked-
Reporter 2 (F): (30:40)
Operating outside the normal channels.
Mick Mulvaney: (30:42)
“Normal…” Who else is in the room? Rudy Giu-… Who’s in the room when the president is having this conversation? Okay? It’s Gordon Sondlund, our ambassador to the EU. Kurt Volker, who is our special designated envoy to the Ukraine. I sat next to Mike Pompeo yesterday at the meeting with the congressional leaders and I said, “Look, I understand I coordinated a coup against you by putting Sondlund and Volker in charge of Ukraine policy.” He leans back to me, he goes, “You know, they both work for me.” There’s not a shadow policy here. The president is entitled to have whoever he wants to work.
Reporter 2 (F): (31:16)
Are you comfortable-
Mick Mulvaney: (31:16)
I’m 100% comfortable. Yes, sir?
Mick Mulvaney: (31:17)
I’m sorry, I did. I did. I did, yes. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Yes.
Reporter 3 (F): (31:20)
No problem. First of all, on that question, can you describe the role that you played in pressuring Ukraine to investigate the Bidens? And secondly, can you walk us through the meeting that President Trump was dangling over Volodymyr Zelensky to happen right here at the White House? What were the preconditions of that meeting and was investigating Burisma one of them?
Mick Mulvaney: (31:45)
The first answer to your question is “none.” What was your question? What did I do to Ukraine or something? Nothing.
Reporter 3 (F): (31:51)
Did you do anything to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Bidens?
Mick Mulvaney: (31:56)
No. So what’s the second question?
Reporter 3 (F): (31:58)
The second question is about the meeting-
Mick Mulvaney: (32:00)
That he “dangled”?
Reporter 3 (F): (32:00)
… that was supposed to happen here at the White House between the two presidents. Could you walk us through the discussions for that meeting? What was on the table for a precondition, and was the investigation of Burisma ever brought up as a condition to meet with President Trump?
Mick Mulvaney: (32:16)
No, not to me. And not to anybody I know of. I was never in a conversation that had the word Burisma in it. But as to-
Reporter 3 (F): (32:24)
By investigating the Bidens, then.
Mick Mulvaney: (32:26)
Okay. Or the Bidens. That never happened with me in there. But to the larger point about the meeting, I think one of the things y’all have missed is the president didn’t want to take the meeting. President didn’t want to have the phone call. Mr. Rick Perry was pushing it for that-
Reporter 3 (F): (32:40)
But on the phone call he said, “I’ll see you here at the White House to meet you.”
Mick Mulvaney: (32:42)
At the end, yes. But I think that was a courtesy that he was extending at the time. He’s not been here yet, but the-
Reporter 3 (F): (32:46)
So he was never realistically entertaining a meeting with President Zelensky?
Mick Mulvaney: (32:51)
We get asked by foreign leaders all of the time to either come visit their country or to have them come visit here. And we try to be courteous and say yes, and some of them we’re able to accommodate and some of them we are not. But I do not remember… See, I’m going to answer her question. I don’t remember a serious conversation about setting up an actual meeting. There are no dates discussed. I saw that as one of the typical pleasantries that we have, and I don’t think it was “dangling” a meeting or anything like that. Yes, sir?
Reporter 4 (M): (33:17)
Is the president still planning to welcome President Erdoğan in the White House November 13th?
Mick Mulvaney: (33:21)
Yeah, I think that depends on how the next couple of days go. It’s still on the schedule. And I understand that Vice President Pence’s meeting is going much longer than it’s expected today. I hope they’re not having a press conference right now. But I think that’s one of those wait-and-see things. The president’s been very clear about what he wants to see out of President Erdoğan. He wants a ceasefire now. He wants prisoners protected. Go down the long list of the things that the president has mentioned to President Erdoğan. And if we’re able to get that, then I think that meeting can go forward. If not, then I think the president will review that possibility. Yes, ma’am?
Reporter 4 (M): (33:58)
On Gordon Sondlund, sir-
Reporter 5 (F): (33:59)
You had said-
Reporter 6 (F): (34:00)
Would you ask-
Reporter 5 (F): (34:01)
Didn’t he look at me?
Reporter 6 (F): (34:01)
You just said-
Reporter 5 (F): (34:01)
Did the president-
Reporter 6 (F): (34:03)
You just said you were involved in the process in which the money being held up temporarily, you named three issues for that for corruption in the country, whether or not the country… they were assisting with an ongoing investigation of corruption. How is that not an establishment of an exchange of a quid pro quo? You just see what-
Mick Mulvaney: (34:20)
It’s quid pro… Those are terms-
Reporter 6 (F): (34:22)
He’s acknowledging this and then-
Mick Mulvaney: (34:23)
Those are the terms that you use. Go look at what Gordon Sondlund said today in his testimony, was that… I think in his opening statement he said something along the lines of: they were trying to get the deliverable. And the deliverable was a statement by the Ukraine about how they were going to deal with corruption. Okay? Go read his testimony if you haven’t already. And what he says is, and he’s right, that’s absolutely ordinary course of business. This is what you do when you have someone come to the White House, when you either arrange a visit for the president, you have a phone call with the president. A lot of times we use that as the opportunity to get them to make a statement of their policy or to announce something that they’re going to do. It’s one of the reasons you can sort of announce that on the phone call or at the meeting. This is the ordinary course of foreign policy. Yes, sir?
Reporter 6 (F): (35:10)
Giuliani said to me, why is [crosstalk 00:35:08]-
Reporter 7 (F): (35:10)
Mr. Mulvaney, is it appropriate for any president or this president to pressure a foreign country to investigate a political opponent?
Mick Mulvaney: (35:17)
Every time I get that question, that’s one of those about… It is, but so is “when did you stop beating your wife?” It assumes that the president’s done that.
Reporter 7 (F): (35:25)
But what’s the-
Mick Mulvaney: (35:25)
We haven’t done that.
Reporter 7 (F): (35:26)
I said Mr. Trump or any president. Is it appropriate?
Mick Mulvaney: (35:29)
I want to talk about this president did. Yes, ma’am?
Reporter 7 (F): (35:32)
The president’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, said he sees his work as the president’s personal attorney as intertwined with the president’s national agenda when it comes to Ukraine. Do you see those issues as intertwined? Is his political interest as a president, as a political candidate, is that intertwined with the national interest?
Mick Mulvaney: (35:51)
Yeah, I don’t know how to answer that question except that Mr. Giuliani is his personal lawyer and the president wants to use him-
Reporter 7 (F): (35:59)
So it’s appropriate for a personal attorney to be working in Ukraine on issues that are supposed to be national issues? Mr. Giuliani says there’s an attorney-client privilege issue because he was working in the president’s interest. Is that appropriate for his personal attorney to be working and using this-
Mick Mulvaney: (36:13)
I don’t know of anything inappropriate about that. Yes, sir?
Mick Mulvaney: (36:14)
Thank you, Mr. Mulvaney. Yeah, I’m sorry. The lady in the back is very nice. Yes, ma’am?
Reporter 8 (F): (36:18)
Thank you, Mr. Mulvaney. You said that the US foreign policy will change, not like the previous administrations. How does the president respond about North Korea’s break off talks with US recently?
Mick Mulvaney: (36:32)
If the question is responding to breaking off talks, is there news in the last couple of days on that?
Reporter 8 (F): (36:42)
Yes. October 5th, Stockholm and Sweden.
Mick Mulvaney: (36:47)
Okay. I’m sorry, I’m just not briefed on that. I apologize. Yes, sir?
Reporter 9 (M): (36:51)
Thank you, Mr. Mulvaney.
Mick Mulvaney: (36:53)
Yeah. And I’ll take one more after this.
Reporter 9 (M): (36:55)
There’ve been published reports that you are objecting within the president’s official family to the appointment of Ken Cuccinelli as the head of the Department of Homeland Security. Is that so, and if so, what is your objection to his possible appointment?
Mick Mulvaney: (37:12)
I have none and I think Ken would be good at the job. Yes, ma’am? Sorry. Did I really ignore you the whole time? You’re sitting in the front row and I haven’t asked you a question yet? I’m sorry.
Reporter 10 (M): (37:20)
Same with me, Mr. Mulvaney.
Reporter 11 (F): (37:21)
So if there was no quid pro quo in the call, if it was routine, if he didn’t want to do it and it’s all on the up-and-up, why did it have to go into this more restricted server? Why was it moved from the one server to the other?
Mick Mulvaney: (37:39)
All right. I’m glad we got that as the one to finish on. I’m not going to answer your question the way you want me to, but I’m going to answer your question, so give me just a second. I’m not going to sit here and talk about how we handle classified information in this building, okay? I’ve got a couple questions before about my private conversations with president. I don’t talk about those either. I’m not going to talk about that. But I do want to address it and here’s why. There’s only one reason people care about that, right? It’s because they think there’s a cover-up. Some of them hope that there’s a cover-up. That, “Oh, my goodness gracious, there must’ve been something really, really duplicitous, something really underhanded about how they handled this document.” Because there must be a cover-up. Because there’s always a good cover-up when we’ve got an impeachment, right?
Mick Mulvaney: (38:18)
Nixon had a cover-up of the tapes. Clinton had a cover-up of the relationship with Lewinsky. There must be a cover up here, right? Let me ask you this. If we wanted to cover this up, would we have called the Department of Justice almost immediately and had them look at the transcript of the tape? Which we did, by the way. If we wanted to cover this up, would we have released it to the public? And by the way, I’m glad that now all of this concern about how the document has been edited and “what do these ellipses stand for?”
Mick Mulvaney: (38:42)
Because I heard Adam Schiff go on television yesterday… or yesterday, the day before, and say, “We don’t need to hear from the whistleblower anymore, because now we have the transcript.” Or the memorandum of communication. Memorandum of document. Everyone wants to believe there’s a cover-up. You don’t give stuff to the public and say, “Here it is,” if you’re trying to cover something up. So I’m not going to answer your question by explaining how we handle documents in this building. All I’m telling you is that you can stop asking the questions in there because there’s no cover-up. And I can prove it to you by our actions.
Mick Mulvaney: (39:10)
Look, I know we could do this all night. No, I’m not going to take anymore. But it’s nice to see everybody. Thanks again. All right.
Reporter 12 (M): (39:16)
[crosstalk 00:39:16] didn’t take a question. Why are you afraid to take questions from CNN, sir?
Reporter 13 (M): (39:21)
Sir, why is the new ambassador involved in Ukraine?