White House Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney discusses withheld aid to Ukraine

Mulvaney acknowledged aid was withheld in part to pressure Ukraine; U.S. ambassador Gordon Sondland testifies on Capitol Hill; U.S. and Turkey agree to ceasefire in Syria.
28:48 | 10/17/19

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Transcript for White House Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney discusses withheld aid to Ukraine
Hello everyone and welcome to the briefing room I'm Kimberly Brooks and I'm filling in for Devin Dwyer today but not to worry because I'm going to be with Taylor ran the senior national correspondent throughout the south our. We been following some breaking news overseas. A cease fire agreement between Turkey and Syria and the Kurds on the president just weighing in. But first breaking news in Washington an explosive briefing by president trumps. Acting chief of staff make mall Laney and we wanna listen to what he set about Trump's call with the Ukraine's a take a lesson. You worked directly involved in the decision to withhold funding. From. You crave. Can you explain to us now definitively why. Why it was. Funding without as a truck they can afford it never has it still doesn't like spending overseas especially. With its. Poorly spent. That is exactly what drove his exit. I've been in the office a couple times of him talking about this is that let me. This is a corrupt place everybody knows it's a corrupt place that was much money. It's. It's so had that was those were the driving factors. They also mentioned to me that that that that the corruption related to the DNC server absolutely no question. But that's it that's what we tell them the money. It was a report. Or investigate it democrats' was part of the reason he it was to withhold. Correctly the look back. What happened in 2016. Certainly was was partly that he was worried about corruption with that they that is absolutely. Which which ultimately did float let's be clear to you just described is a quid pro quo it is funding will not flow in less the investigation. Into the into the democratic server. It happens while we we do we do that all the time with foreign policy it is for everybody. Get over. There's going to be political influence foreign policy. Styles. RA so remarkable exchange there like I told you I'm with tear hammer ran I had Keira Phillips let me and I wanna starlet Jon Karl because you were right there asking those tough questions what was that like. Well I have to say I was blown away by the bluntness with which he answered PP candor though this White House. Has been denying. Over and over again that there was a quid pro quo. That the money was withheld to ask them to investigate Democrats they've denied that over and over again. And what you just heard from Mick mall they need. He is in acknowledge me now he went through a whole series of other reasons were worried about corruption and we didn't like the fact that the Europeans. We're giving more aid but you know did the president ask me about so. About investigating the did the DNC server yes and and that's where ice a win win and so you're saying that was a condition and he said yes. And then when I said point blank you're talking a quid pro quo you just saw he doesn't he says I mean the answer was something else get over. Yeah I want to ask you guys because he said the DNC server he didn't say anything about. Joseph Biden and that make a difference and yet he will heat it was like he was doubling down. And talking about the 2016 election and the DNC server but that he said it had nothing to do with the Ukraine call. And and insulin ski again finding out dirt on Joseph Biden. Yes so bomb he he said because he was derivatives are very default question was asked after that by issue Roscoe and PR one about. What about Joseph Biden did did did did he did he bring up investigating Joseph Biden. And I thought his answer was very inching because what he said is the president didn't bring that up with me manner. Basically it was as far as all I know. You know Joseph Biden was in part of the quid pro called the remember. This is a question about whether or not. Whether or not the president was a couple questions and one we already had an answer to did the president. Ask a foreign leader to investigate. A political rival political rivals the answer we already know is yes he's admitted at its acknowledged that the second question. Which by the way you wouldn't even need to have a yes or no to to go through the impeachment inquiry when Democrats have been clear. Did that the problem they see is actually asking foreign government to helping to campaign for a period rank but the question that would make it even a more explosive. Issue. Is did you. Withhold military aid to they've been approved by congress. Did you withhold that aid saying you first wanted to see an investigation go forward and that's we saw will be answered I'm not an investigation into Biden ordered investigation into it to Democrats. And Terry your thoughts well first a round of golf clustered Jon Karl knows very well done under very nicely done. And I have a a question about mall they need but first on Biden the president himself in that call. Says to the president of Ukraine got to buy or delivered by talked to Rudy Giuliani he's doing this morning Biden's old corrupt. Go after Biden and so nice in the ground rainy saying. Yes it was about going after that this notion that the DNC server is in Ukraine and the president himself in the transcript saying crafted by but I question. Why didn't Maldini do this because he's convinced that the argument that there's nothing wrong here nothing to see that that's a winning argument. Well I but is that true because he has the power the president has the power to ask anyone to do. Whatever he wants them to do the question was he abusing his power right in this is where Rudy Giuliani comes in the play his personal attorney. And what Rudy was being asked to do on behalf of the present. But gas is good question and it's one they just did. Frankly I don't know the answer to but the question is why after denying that there'd been accrued quid pro quo for so long. Why in touch this matter of fact and blunt way say yet deal it that's what we did now I know it makes me wonder it's very. Wall is does he know that something is coming out does he know that there is more. Evidence. They will come out during the course of this of this investigation that shows that the president was pretty damn explicit. Did did he wasn't that he wanted to use that as leverage to get the investigation you know this. Does look like they know they're gonna die and all of not literally obviously. But the notion from the beginning that the presence tried to make the case I'm not doing this for my personal interest political or otherwise. This is the national interest corruption in Ukraine national interest in what was going on with the hacking of our 2016 election that's an intelligence matter. In the national interest. So this is not about me and my personal abuse of power this is the use of the power at the way the concert. It's not paying attention to the diplomats that are testifying in this gift and then what they're telling of native folks about current congressional investigators about the phone call in with the president was asking them to do. How many diplomats debt less have now come forward and said. We didn't like what the president was doing but we were told to go there Rudy Giuliani look. The president has a right to pick whatever diplomats he wanted to pursue his own foreign policy but the question is you're doing it for for political gain and what's inch thing here is that the issue. That he wondered investigated this DNC server issue we're talking about. Is this frankly a pretty crazy conspiracy theory that his own Homeland Security advisor Tom Bonser. Said you hear an ABC. That he went to the president and said look there is nothing to this you've got to get off this the idea basically Terry is that it. The DNC. Effectively hacked itself and when he sixteen. And used this Ukrainian company crowd strike to make it look like it was the Russians why. Because in case trumpet did actually get elected president they would have an insurance policy which to go after and make it look like they'll rot I mean yeah it's it's I mean. It is it is it is not a it is not a mainstream theory. Art and one Morton yet note from our Justice Department team Alex Maryland. Now that lip Lavinia says yes this Ukrainian made. By the way thirteen thousand people have been killed in Ukraine in the end where it's going into this is a life and death matter as another me show right so. Yes this military aid was held up. Because we wanted a Justice Department investigation that does Berman has no idea they incident put out a formal statement nobody told us anything about. Help with an investigation we have nothing to do with whatever mount Brighton is talking. Yes thankfully so John I appreciate you sharing what that experience was like an of course you guys know. This comes after more testimonies about how we even let up to this call. You know the ambassador to the EU Gordon some link he testified. Among the holidays soaked here. I wanna hear about what he actually said. Into the house about his involvement yes. I found interesting is that he broke from the president this was a very good friend of president trumps he donated a million dollars to his campaign. And what we saw from opening statement and what we saw from and so far what we're getting out of the testimony. Is that he completely disagreed with what the president was doing. And he said here in his opening statement a series at a congressional investigators let me state clearly inviting a foreign government to undertake investigations for the purpose. Of influencing its upcoming US election would be wrong. With holding foreign aid in order to pressure of foreign government to take such steps would be wrong. I did not and would not ever participate in such undertakings. In my it came in security. Aid to Ukraine. Was in our vital national interest and should not have been delayed for any reason that falls right into what you were just saying yeah BA yeah. And he did his however Ross's that he wasn't told about any pre quid pro quo but what I see in in this and a lot of the diplomat to testify. If everybody who got any whiff of this right. They knew was radioactive. And they only wanted to know about the part that was OK in their lane in the Rudy Giuliani part they want nothing to do it. So there is this. My call consciousness of of wrongdoing. On the part of the people who looked at the transcript and put it on a separate server. On the part of John Bolton national security advisor whose dogs deputy go tell the White House lawyers we're being pressured to do something we don't want. On the part of these diplomats is OK can do is I don't know any weapons other stuff. Is it adds up. Just something that that even trumps allies and friends and fundraisers felt bad about and I think that's one of the takeaways from Gordon some hints testimony today. In what do you guys think of this because the White House has been trying to keep everyone. From testifying in of course the house as it's not working adequately in everyone's. So what does this mean going forward with all of these people coming forward and cracking holes into. The White House's defense here well Terry Ameritech. Here earlier we think it will probably lead to impeachment Willie be removed from office note but. Very very likely that it will lead to impeachment because you know this and he has the power vs did he abuse his power was he doing anything illegal was the president doing anything illegal was he doing anything that was unconstitutional. That's what congressional investigators are still looking at. And I think it also is. Eat to how serious this is look you look at the polls. I look at they do want to impeach you one Allen impeach what I sensed in the movement in the public is people get how serious this would be if this is true. And and they're leaning into this story they wanna know more facts they they don't want a quick rush to judgment. But they also don't want it swept under the rug they're there they realize that something like this if there's a private foreign policy being run by Rudy Giuliani. Perhaps for the benefit of the president. People understand the constitution and and they realized that it would be very serious if the evidence pans out and. Directions are at a wanna think Kara Phillips for joining us with that of any there. And guys we're gonna move on because there's another major story. Out of the White House some breaking news that there was a cease fire in that Turkish. Operation against the Syrian Kurds who. Fought alongside the US to fight I says an operation that presidents from Greenland himself and he weighed in on it early years to take a listen. This is an amazing outcome this is an outcome. Regardless of how the press would like do it dampen down this was something that they've been tried to get back ten years. You were lost millions and millions of lives they couldn't get it without a little rough lovers I call that I guess. Put out they needed a little better that at the beginning. And that everybody said wow this is tougher that we thought. And Connor. The US is calling this a cease fire on the what did the US and Turkey actually agree upon today. And Kimberly I think this is actually more evil queen really for Turkey. We've just gotten that detects of this agreement between the US and Turkey. After over five hours of negotiations. Between vice president pens. And Turkish president aired a one in particular this is a 120. Hour a five day. Pause in Turkey's operations in northern Syria. During that time the STF the Syrian democratic forces which as you said work backed by the US. Fought alongside the US in the fight against laces. They will be forced to be withdrawn from that territory they'll be forced to disarm. During that time period as well and if that happens. Then Turkey says it will halt its operations. Now it's really important understand that's exactly what Turkey has sought this entire time. They essentially get. Three things that they have won it for the last week. First they wanted to controlled this territory a twenty miles deep into Syria. And have their troops patrol it they want no Kurdish forces to be in that area. And and ultimately build they wanted no US sanctions. The White House announced on Monday. That the treasury would sanction. Three senior Turkish officials to Turkey's government ministries and as part of this agreement if it is implemented all the way the US says. That they will not implement. Those sanctions with unclear at this point in time however is whether or not the Kurds themselves will agree to this there were obviously not part of these negotiations. Between president aired one and vice president pence. We're beginning to hear from some of their leadership. That they do not support this agreement but with obvious at this point is that the Turks do and they are celebrating it as a victory. All right Conor Finnegan right there at the State Department interior just wanna come to you because what does this mean on the ground there you know that. All of these things have rolled out so fast you know first it's he's giving the president child's getting the green light and then the invasion happens now there's a cease fire people have died like what does this mean on the ground. Well it Diaz Connors is a huge victory for Turkey but let's think about the Kurds from and I spent time in in Syria in northern Syria and with Kurds in Syria and Iraq he's more allies right. They fought and died. With us under our direction. Two and that grounded they're giving up now that was telling them you gotta get out of there he got to lay down your arms and you gotta get out of their 111000 of them died to defeat ice is soon. I can to protect their own families the families of Christians in his CDs in that part of Syria we are not telling them sorry where were abandoning. And you got it you gotta get out. And we're gonna lead into the tender mercies of the Turks who are their sworn enemy strike. This will damage American credibility in the region going forward and it is also a tragedy for the Kurdish people who seen. A lot over time but as the president says. If it works it will stop the fighting and there was this unfolding humanitarian catastrophe. There that. If by awarding victory in Turkey maybe it'll stop. Yet I think we cannot lose sight of the fact that it is a humanitarian crisis when you look at the images of the kids. And the families that are displaced I mean it's real severe comes. Clinton's it is you know Syria is put him into a bunch of times in golfed in civil war for eight years a kind of hell on earth. And the president says if they stop this fighting may beetle maybe it'll get better but the cost of is very very high for the Kurdish people. Yet so as you guys know there is a lot of things going on in Washington on the impeachment investigations dominating the news so much that sometimes we forget about. Other stories that are just as important nom like there's children still cage at the border and there's still mass shootings at people are trying to grapple with which brings me to Parkland. If you remember seventeen kids. Losing their lives in that mass shooting on Valentine's Day into when he eighteen. And our next guest. Our Tom in Gino poitier their son Luke how are you doing we're so happy that you're here. A your son Luke was one of those teens. Yes a one and one of the things I want that when askew. You know win you experience something like this I mean we haven't gone through this but we know that grief is not a Linear process. I'm how are you guys in this moment standing with us right now. We're hanging in there we're stronger today than we were and he you know a year ago. I wake up every morning hoping that it's not tree. So everyday is a new day to learn how to live without works and probably never have to deal with the loop with our. Third child and are surprised they beat him so we should stand now with laugh and go. You know we do without him in their firm my whole life I think what have to be. Living that statement. And the reason and you guys are with us today is because. You're able to talk to some senators. On Capitol Hill because you guys are withstand with Parkland and organization to be just tell us about that and wouldn't. Venture so stay with Portland is a group for the families of those deceased those who were killed Valentine's Day 2018 who banded together. To try to find some common ground to move something forward right thumb. Is a pretty complex situation for us there's a lot of things that failed us that day and there's no simple solution to know so we have a sudden solutions. I can think of them in terms of like layers of safety sorts when mental health you know mental health screening. Really suicide in prevention and and intervention. Because. Most school shooters are suicidal lot of mass shooters or some sun way to get way out in front of it another aspect of mental health. He has been able to share information mental health professionals share information police and schools you can have them talk let's test people. In our situation this kid was a surprise to us what we found out later not a surprise to the school not surprised some police non surprise and mental health. Because they knew he knew what he wants so mental health. Professionals if they are in their professional judgment. Treating someone who they believe this homicidal and cannot communicate that the law enforcement obstacles to that that's correct or obstacles and road real obstacles and a lot of perceived obstacles hit book which is. Miller in the a medical records law and infertile which as a school prophecy law. Which are a little complicated and in pretty strict but a lot of people just take the default position by won't share any information with anybody on this stuff. And in this in Parkland case that would have made a difference I think that would amused if it's definitely. So. That's the first player secondly if a kid falls through that their protection next thing is to people weapon out of the right person's hands right. So background checks more robust background checks. Not only expansion to commercial sales but also. Pimple or a elements of a mental health you know we're just talking about you know if if a kid is assessed by all three of those professionals as a team. Jabil reports that to get to the next system so that they want to be alone by purchasing guns legally. The other one is extreme risk protection orders so gun dirty in the home. It is a great tool for police to go to a judge and get a risk warned to remove guns from. A potentially dangerous to let that happen. It does have to live here we. Or governor senator Scott the time was our governor back then and he. You don't win against the wave of you know his party and among other things got extra horse protection were put in place it has been used numerous times. And it's a very fast process you know the guns are taken away what was taken away. And somebody has on the back and things within a couple weeks they have a hearing and they can appeal have the weapons to combatants before judge it's very process oriented. Yes nobody's really in the not a right there. Peculiar the weapons back rituals protect innocent human beings have the same time when that. Before we go I want to ask you guys you know with them. Impeachment process dominating the news in the country so polarized do you think that there's actually. Going to be change when it comes to the gun violence in our country guys are doing a lot of incredible work. They were spent a lot of time up here talking with senators in congress from both both sides of the aisle were nonpartisan group you know this is not a political issue to a small you know. But Republicans have kids in school Democrats of his could you know independents have kids in school so. We. Are are hopeful. Because some leadership out of the white house on this because really needed to kind of pushed this along to me and I know that's extraordinarily difficult at this particular moment. But that's what we hope for so we and we can talk of the White House from talking to the so called reasons Republicans and Democrats on both sides alum both houses. And everybody's interested in helping us to things we're talking about are pretty mill road. Things right it's we're looking for common ground because if you can't find common ground. You know we're never gonna get anything dumber never get to common ground where we can do something for get something done we gotta get something dumb against or moving on this. Even if they erode in mr. seemingly small things really get moving on this try to keep participants receive. And as you say this is this an impeachment divides us. This can be some really that unite us right every young person every student every family. We don't want this and ask that's exactly residences yes. You know they offices we visit whether Republican or Democrats. We all find common ground like we could just get them to come together. And take action on May be something small that works. Just like in our case that the three focuses this you know school safety middle hills. Responsible farm ownership if one of those who work in our case we wouldn't you before you today. Yes yes. Tom and Gina boy here we appreciate you being with us today thank you so much to do I mean these guys yes thank you so much we appreciate it yes. Good luck yes thank you. And guys Terry you know this we learned this news earlier this morning that democratic congressman Elijah Cummings. Passed away at 68 years old he was a son of sharecroppers. That went on to be a force of fighting tirelessly for justice. In his own Baltimore community and this country and killed his very last breath so teary I just wanna get your thoughts on Elijah Cummings first. You know civic on the line of the house and I think that's true that they don't make him like Elijah Cummings in the morning to bad thing for the country. He he was a fighter for civil rights in his youth in Woburn you live to be an elder statesman kind of showing the way. Fascia she was a Democrat he had issues that he believed in. But if you watched him sharing eighties hearings of the past year on impeachment or participate as. The minority ranking minority members when that when the Ben Ghazi years ago he fought he fought tooth and nail. But with the decency and even a generosity. And end it what is testimonies you hear the number of Republicans who comment. Mark meadows a one of the most conservative. Republicans like man in in in the House of Representatives. Said he wept when he heard this we don't we need more people who can fight. Their parents for their principles. With decency and love in their hearts and you know if you if you ever met Elijah Cummings you knew he was that guy and his losses and is a very deep one. It's a very big loss and we want to bring in and a former mayor of Baltimore Stephanie Rawlings Blake on to get her thoughts because Stephanie you knew him. Personally. I did he so tired and not legislature with my problem. From when I was child and I've known him almost my entire life that millions to be a generous man saw a man. Kinda. Leader and we've taken and big and big hit today. Yeah and so what do you want people to remember about him and other than his work because you knew him outside of his work in congress. I would say that his work is a measure are demanding a look didn't Elijah Cummings congressman Cummings. Was just what you saw he was the same men in private as he wasn't public he lose. I'm always willing to lend a hand sue anyone from anyone in the community anyone in government. And he was someone that you could depend on and so many of us who had looked to use his example. I'm really dealing feeling that hole that meant that town that changed today. And just before we I'm leave you what do you think his legacy would be if you could just summing up. I think his legacy is. Line. Ego less or sell let's public service he was so focused on the next generation he was clear about what is her is why that he was here to make a difference in the lives of children he would never meet. And he did that. Up until his last breath. All right Stephanie Rawlings Blake the former mayor of Baltimore at thank you so much for being with us during this time. Yes so we appreciate it and Teri you been holding it down with me his entire half RA. Did you hear yes Lydia always stuck on done across the cameras leader US and many think all of this means covering all of this stuff that's crazy it is great look at it's exhausting and somewhere is amazes like during an out of a fire hydrant and it Qaeda is on some days. But actually listening. To our guests talking about Parkland. Yeah the big country there's a lot of things go on the country we can get this tunnel vision here and get all wrapped up into it. And and one thing that a campaign does give you the opportunity to do although your kind of fighting. At least you do go out in the country you get a sense of where the public is with public mind is not that. Not the beltway politics so yeah but welcome to the beltway it's it's great that. Enthusiastic guys and before we go we wanna leave you today with them Elijah Cummings in his own words from his very first speech in congress. I'm as he was starting to do the job he wanted to do his entire life and even then urging us all in the face of differences to concentrate on what we have in common. Words that hold great significance today so take a look at this and have a good when. So often we in public life again. They'll be a very fortunate. To come upon the surf and have an opportunity to serve. So often we forget because we get so caught up and our battles and on struggles. There's so many people wish they could it have the problems we have. So I am I'm just a happy happy man. How world would be a much better world in a much better place. If we would only concentrate. On the things we have in common. Instead of concentrating on one out differences is easy to find differences it's very east. We need to take more time to find common ground. Disappointing that Karen Mitchell. Said many many years ago that I say. Sometimes twenty times a day and is a very simple point but as one. That I live by says I only have a minute. Sixteen. Seconds image. Forced upon me I did not choose it. But I know that I must use its. Give account to five abuse it sucked if I loses. It's kind of little niche. But eternity and is and it and so I join you. As we move for yet. To augment. Not only the nation. But the world. May god ritual may god bless America.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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