White House: Ukraine aid held up in part over election probe

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House acknowledged Thursday that President Donald Trump’s decision to hold up military aid to Ukraine was linked to his demand that Kyiv investigate the Democratic National Committee and the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.

The admission from acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney raised questions at the Justice Department and brought swift rebuke from Democrats, who cast his words as an admission of wrongdoing. Mulvaney said Trump did nothing improper because he was asking for help investigating a prior election, not seeking assistance with the 2020 contest. It’s illegal to seek or receive foreign help of value in a U.S. election.

In the White House’s most granular explanation of the decision to withhold military aid from Ukraine, Mulvaney said the president’s move was part of efforts to clean up corruption in the Eastern European country. He appeared to be referring to unsubstantiated conspiracy theories about a purported Ukrainian link to Russia’s hack of the DNC during the last presidential election.

“The look back to what happened in 2016 certainly was part of the thing that he was worried about in corruption with that nation,” Mulvaney told reporters in the White House briefing room.

“Did he also mention to me in the past the corruption that related to the DNC server? Absolutely, no question about that,” Mulvaney continued. “That’s why we held up the money.”

Article URL : https://www.apnews.com/96e324358e02441f8116fd1a5ad57132

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