Mulvaney Says Trump Held Back Ukraine Aid Pending Investigation of Democrats

Mulvaney Says Trump Held Back Ukraine Aid Pending Investigation of Democrats

Mr. Sondland testified behind closed doors for more than six hours at the Capitol, the latest in a series of current and former diplomats and White House aides who have provided detailed accounts of actions by Mr. Giuliani and others related to Ukraine.

Democratic lawmakers are certain to seize on Mr. Mulvaney’s comments as crucial support of the testimony coming from other witnesses, who have accused the administration of improperly pressuring Ukraine and of sidelining veteran diplomats in favor of Mr. Trump’s political loyalists.

“We have a confession,” said Representative Eric Swalwell, Democrat of California.

In wide-ranging remarks, Mr. Mulvaney told reporters at the White House that the $391 million in military aid was initially withheld from Ukraine because the president was displeased that European countries were not as generous with their assistance. He also wanted more attention paid to Ukraine’s persistent political corruption.

Mr. Mulvaney denied that the aid for Ukraine was also contingent on its government opening an investigation into either former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., a leading Democratic candidate for president, or his younger son, Hunter Biden. Asked whether he did anything to pressure President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to investigate the Bidens, Mr. Mulvaney said “no.”

But the president did pressure Ukraine to re-examine discredited theories that Ukraine, not Russia, had worked to sway the 2016 campaign. Mr. Mulvaney’s mention of a “D.N.C. server” was a reference to an unfounded conspiracy theory promoted by Mr. Trump that Ukraine was somehow involved in Russia’s 2016 theft of emails from the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Mr. Mulvaney tied the server to the Justice Department’s review of the origins of the Russia investigation, led by the United States attorney in Connecticut, John H. Durham, and closely overseen by Attorney General William P. Barr.

“That’s an ongoing investigation,” Mr. Mulvaney said. “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.”

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