November 14, 2019
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Mr. Mulvaney: Hey, guys. How are you all? First thing’s first: I
want to comment very briefly on Mr.
Cummings’s passing. For those of you who know,
I was in Congress for a couple 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. And he will be missed. He was — he was a classy
guy, and I enjoyed much working with him. And the condolences from
my family and all of the White House group
to his family today. He will be — he will
be sorely missed. Now, getting on to the
business at hand, I understand it’s been a
fairly slow news week — (laughter) — 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 rule, 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 I
can’t do that either. So we’re going to
talk about the G7. We’re going to talk 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 dealing with things like
rejuvenating incentives for growth and
prosperity; rolling back prosperity-killing
regulations; ending trade barriers; and re-opening
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 onboard 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. And we really do think
that we have hit on a formula that works not
only here but that would work overseas, where
we take the G7 as the opportunity to try and
convince other nations that they can have
the same successes by following the same model. Now, let’s talk about the
site selection process because I know you folks
will ask 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, et cetera. So we use the same set of
criteria that previous administrations have used. We started with a list of
about a dozen, just on paper. And we sent an advance
team out to actually visit 10 locations in
several states. We visited California,
Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Michigan, North Carolina,
Tennessee, and Utah. Now, we got that list down
to just under 10, and the advance team went
out to visit those. And from there, we got
down to four finalists that our senior team
went out to look at. They looked at — I think
it was one in Hawaii, two in Utah, and then the
Mar-a-Lago facility in Florida. And 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 advance teams when they came back, and I
said, “What was it like?” And they 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 can have a building, another
country can 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. 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. He’s 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, to understand there’s
difficulties with doing it that way. But we’ll also have
difficulties, obviously, if they charge
market rates. So they’re doing
this at cost. As a result, it’s actually
going to be dramatically cheaper for us to do it at
Doral compared to other final sites that we had. So 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
take a chance to maybe ask a couple questions about
the other stuff before the end of the day? Eamon? The Press:
Yeah, thank you. So, 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? Mr. Mulvaney: Okay, a
couple different things. First off, you’re not
making any profit. I think we’ve already
established that. I think some — The Press:
There’s marketing and branding opportunities
(inaudible). Mr. Mulvaney: It’s a huge
— I’ve heard — you know, I’ve heard that — I’ve
heard that before. You know, I guess I’ve
been the Chief now for about 9 or 10 months, and
I always hear: 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 at 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 the
most recognizable name in the English language and
probably around the world right now. So, no, that has
nothing to do with it. That’s why — listen,
I was skeptical. I was. I was aware of the
political, sort of, criticism that we’d come
under for doing it at Doral, which is why I was
so surprised when the advance team called back
and said that this is the perfect physical
location to do this. So, 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. 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
with the Bidens. And, second of all, I
think if there’s one difference that you look
at between the Trump family and the Biden
family: The Trump family made their money before
they went into politics. That’s a big difference. Yes, sir. The Press: You said it’s
going to be done at cost. Do you have any idea of
the cost estimate, how much money you’re
looking at? And also, will it remain a
G7, or do envision Russia joining? Mr. Mulvaney: Yeah, I
don’t have the numbers in terms of the cost. I do know that it was —
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 percent savings. As to the G7, G8 —
look, 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, that used
to be members of that organization. And I think he’s been
fairly straightforward 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. Okay? 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. The Press: 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. And you can’t make
the argument that the President is not going to
profit because we can’t know how much he might
profit in the future, right? Mr. Mulvaney: Yeah. To your first point,
again, I think (inaudible) the profit one. Again, he’s not making any
money off of this, just like he’s not making any
money from working here. And 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, so 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 this
media didn’t like it because you had to drive
an hour on a bus to get there either way. The Press: I
take your point. But there have been other
G7 summits; I’ve attended numerous — Mr.
Mulvaney: Yeah. The Press: — G7 summits
that have been completely fine, according to the
leaders who attended them. Mr. Mulvaney: Well, look,
we looked at — The Press: How can the White House
really make the argument that this was the only
place the G7 Summit could (inaudible)? Mr. Mulvaney: It’s not the
only place; it’s the best place. Those are two
different things. Okay? But we had dates — The
Press: There had to be other good places
without the President’s (inaudible). Mr. Mulvaney: 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 it at a specific time; we wanted
it in early June. So that limits
it a little bit. Then there’s other —
there’s difficulties with going to 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 just —
there’s limitations in other places. We thought, of the 12
places that we looked at — and you’d recognize the
names of them if we told what they were — that
this was by far and away the best choice. Yes, ma’am. The Press: Very quickly. This is a business optics. How is the President going
to stand on the 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 (inaudible)? Mr. Mulvaney: He’s going
to do that extraordinarily well. Yes, ma’am. Yeah. The Press: Thank you,
Director Mulvaney. So you were talking about
how this is the best place — Mr. Mulvaney: Yeah. The Press: — or one
of the best places. Okay. So is this going to be
self-contained just at Doral? Are there other hotel
rooms you think you’ll have to get? Or is there anywhere
else that you’ll have to (inaudible)? Mr. Mulvaney: Yeah. One of the advantages — I
understand that one of the advantages that the
advance 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 there’s — I think
the President said there’s almost 900 acres there. So it’s a huge facility. And we’ll be able —
with a lot open space. I think there’s
three golf courses. So there’s a lot of
space available to us. And we do anticipate the
entire thing being on that campus. Now — The Press:
Including the hotel — including hotels? I’m talking about
additional hotel rooms. Do you think you’ll have
to get additional hotels involved in that? Mr. Mulvaney: Yeah, I
would — well, again, I’m not sure about the su- —
when we talk about the delegations — for
example, when we went to — where were we? — Biarritz, and 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 up hotel rooms in the
Miami area, I can’t speak to that. The Press: And then a
quick question about local authorities. What local authorities
have you been in contact with about this? Mr. Mulvaney: Yeah,
I haven’t asked that question, but we do that
as part of — the advance team will do that with
each of the groups that we work with. But I’m not
familiar with those. Yes, ma’am. The Press: Yeah. 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? Mr. Mulvaney: Have
you asked him? The Press: I’m sure — The
Press: We have asked him. Yes. The Press: We’ve asked. We’ve asked for comment
over and over again, yes. Mr. Mulvaney: But we
put out a statement. And you had a chance to
ask him that question yesterday and you asked
him something else, which is fine. But — The Press: But to
be clear, he’s been asked multiple times and
hasn’t responded. Mr. Mulvaney:
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. That’s not — The Press:
But he’s the President. The Press: (Inaudible)
Twitter with 65 million followers, sir. Mr. Mulvaney: Do
you — we didn’t. We did not. Did you think
that we would? The Press: What has the
President said about it, Mr. Mulvaney? The Press: I mean, that
doesn’t sound like a very strong condemnation. Mr. Mulvaney:
Oh, come on, Jon. The Press: This was a —
Mr. Mulvaney: I mean, it was — it was awful. I mean, I’ve never
seen the movie. No, no — we — that
has no place here. I think we’ve
condemned that. The Press: Has he
watched the video? Mr. Mulvaney: I don’t know
if he’s seen it or not. I have. The Press: Will the
President go before the cameras and say the
same, Mr. Mulvaney? The Press: I understand
that you’re trying to put it in a place that you
think is the best. Mr. Mulvaney: Yeah. The Press: And maybe save
the taxpayers some money, which is important
for all of us. But sometimes you —
because of the appearance of impropriety, you
don’t make that call. Can you at least
understand and acknowledge that 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? Mr. Mulvaney: Yeah. The President knows that. Listen, the President —
we know the environment we live in. You all know the
environment that we live in. And 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 at 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. The Press: Thank
you, Mr. Mulvaney. Aside from what your
advance 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? Mr. Mulvaney: Yeah. I think we — that’s
a fair question. We sat around one night. We were back in the dining
room and I was going over it with a couple of
our advance team. We had the list, and he
goes, “What about Doral?” And it was like, “That’s
not the craziest idea. It makes perfect sense.”
The Press: So he’s the one that initially
brought it up. Mr. Mulvaney: We’re all
familiar with it, so it’s not like he said, “Oh,
this is what Doral…Do I have to explain…” He
said, “No, what about Doral?” Like, you know what,
that’s not the craziest idea we ever heard. And we sat down and
went to go look at it. Yes, sir. The Press: Yes. Thanks, Mick. I wanted to ask you as it
relates to this decision that you’ve made. As the host country,
couldn’t the President simply, as the host
country, invite President Putin to represent
Russia at the G7? Mr. Mulvaney: Yeah, I
think we can, because I think we — as I
understand how the G7 works, there will 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. But in terms of — I
think the question I got originally was turning it
from the G7 into the G8. The Press: That’s
not my question. Mr. Mulvaney: Okay. The Press: My question
was: Could he simply invite President
Putin to attend? Mr. Mulvaney: I think
he probably — yes. If the question is, can
he physically do that? Yeah. I think he can. The Press: It’s not
about whether he can. Of course, he can;
he’s President. But would he
consider doing that? Mr. Mulvaney: That
has not come up. I think the conversation
we’ve had about whether or not we’d turn it from the
G7 to G8, that could be an intermediate step. Yes, sir. The Press: 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 and 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? Mr. Mulvaney: No. What’s your question? The Press: I have
a non-G7 question. The Press: Yeah, so do I. Mr. Mulvaney: Any G7 —
any last G7 questions? The Press: I got one more. The Press: About the G7
property — a couple of things. One, you say it’s the best
property for this to take place. So the first question is:
Why has no other G7 ever been held there before? Mr. Mulvaney: Because they
didn’t go look at it. So — I don’t know, why
did they have it at Camp David? I mean, seriously. I mean, for those of you
who were there, I’m a little bit familiar with
it; I’ve talked with the folks up at Camp David
because I was up there recently and asked. I said, “Didn’t you guys
go up…” — I think it was a G8 back then. 2004, something like that. And they said it was
a complete disaster. I’m like, “Okay, I wonder
how that happened. How did that
decision get made?” The Press: Last — last G7
question then, if I can. You were talking about the
President’s — this video, where the President was
seen shooting members of the media and others that
was played at the Doral property there that said
that we haven’t had the chance to ask him that
question yet, which we have. But broadly, the President
has tweeted 45,000 times. Forty-five thousand 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. Mr. Mulvaney: Yeah. The White House put out
a statement about it. I mean, that’s — The Press: But why hasn’t the President? Because he’s tweeted
45,000 times. Mr. Mulvaney: 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 100 face-to-face interviews with you. The Press: We’ve asked
him and he’s ignored the question, sir. Mr. Mulvaney: Okay. Anybody else on G7? The Press: I got one more. 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? Mr. Mulvaney: The
first question is, no. I don’t know if another
President has ever done it. I don’t know if another
President has owned a property that was even
considered for G7. So, no, we haven’t — I
don’t know the answer to that question. Climate change will
not be on the agenda. Yes, sir. The Press: Thank you. President Trump has called
for the exposure of the whistleblower on Ukraine
— Mr. Mulvaney: Are we done on G7 then? Is that the collective —
is that the collective will? The Press: Yes. That was (inaudible), sir. Mr. Mulvaney: I’ve got one
gentlemen — yes, sir. Go ahead. Last one on G7. The Press: Well, you began
your remarks talking about the passing of
Mr. Cummings. 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? Mr. Mulvaney: No. But I would imagine we
would share dollar figures with you afterwards. I mean, that’s — that’s
ordinary course of business. The Press: (Inaudible)
paper exists that shows the merits of (inaudible)? Mr. Mulvaney: By the way,
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 if us — if
you want to see our paper on how we did this, the
answer is: Absolutely not. Yes, sir. The Press: Yes. There will almost
certainly be a House Judiciary Committee hearing about this site selection. Mr. Mulvaney:
You think so? The Press: Jerry Nadler
has already talked about that. Will — Mr. Mulvaney:
D you, though? Do you really think so? Do you think they
have time to do that? The Press: I
really think so. Yeah. Will the administration
participate, cooperate, with that? Mr. Mulvaney: You know,
that’s a — by the way, that’s a fascinating
question. I had not thought that —
that this would prompt a Judiciary Committee
investigation. On one hand, I’m thinking
to myself, “They don’t have time to do it because
they’re too busy doing impeachment.” Right. And then I think to
myself, “No, this is entirely consistent with
how they’ve 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, than talk
about drug policy, than talk about opioids;
talk about healthcare. So, that’s a
fascinating question. I don’t know if there will
be a Judiciary Committee inquiry into this. My guess is there
probably will be. And we look forward to
participating in it. Is anybody — this is
all — these are all G7 questions that
are out now? Okay. Now we’re moving on
to something else. The Press: Yes. Mr. Mulvaney: So,
who hasn’t asked me? Jon Karl has not
asked a question yet. The Press: 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? Mr. Mulvaney: Yeah, it was
— yeah, four finalists, I think. We started with 12
on, sort of, a list. The team visited, sort of,
a — a first team visited 10 of those. And I think I
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. The Press: So, you’re
telling me that in the entire United States,
you came down to four finalists, and two of them
were Trump properties? Mr. Mulvaney: No, one. The Press: Well,
Mar-a-Lago. The Press: You
said Mar-a-Lago. Mr. Mulvaney: I’m sorry. I’m sorry. The Press: Okay,
so you misspoke. Mr. Mulvaney: No,
I’m sorry, Jon. The Press: Okay. Okay. Mr. Mulvaney: Doral. Doral. Doral. The Press: Just want
to (inaudible) — Mr. Mulvaney:
Yes, I’m sorry. Yes. The Press: Okay, so — The
Press: So Mar-a-Lago was not involved. Mr. Mulvaney: No,
Mar-a-Lago was not involved. Mar-a-Lago is not close to
being sufficient for the G7. I’m sorry that I —
The Press: Thank you. Thank you for clarifying. Mr. Mulvaney: If I said
Mar-a-Lago about where we visited, it was Doral. I apologize. The Press: Okay, the
record is corrected. Mr. Mulvaney: All right. The Press: So, to the
question of Ukraine. Mr. Mulvaney: Yeah. The Press: 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? Mr. Mulvaney: Sure. I’ll — 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? The last time I was up
here, some of you folks remember, it was for the
budget briefings, right? And one of the questions
y’all always asked me about the budget is, “What
are you all doing to the foreign aid budget?” Because we absolutely
gutted it, right? 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. 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. And you’ve heard the
President say this: that we give them tanks and
other countries give them pillows. That’s absolutely right,
that the — 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 then still to this day are not. And the President
did not like that. I know it’s a long answer
to your question, but I’m still going. So that was — those were
the driving factors. Did he also mention to me
in pass 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. Now, there was a report —
The Press: So the demand for an investigation into
the Democrats was part of the reason that he ordered
to withhold funding to Ukraine? Mr. Mulvaney: The look
back to what happened in 2016 — The Press: The
investigation into Democrats. Mr. Mulvaney: — certainly
was part of the thing that he was worried about in
corruption with that nation. And that is absolutely
appropriate. The Press: And
withholding the funding? Mr. Mulvaney: Yeah. Which ultimately,
then, flowed. By the way, there was
a report that we were worried that the money
wouldn’t — 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 the little shred of truth in it, that
makes it look a lot worse than it really is. We were concerned, over at
OMB, about an impoundment. And I know I just put half
of you folks to bed, but there’s — the Budget
Control Act — Budget Control Impoundment Act of
1974 says that 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. The Press: But to be
clear, what you just described is a
quid pro quo. It is: Funding will
not flow unless the investigation into the
Democratic server happens as well. Mr. Mulvaney: We do that
all the time with foreign policy. We were holding 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 — The Press: (Inaudible.)
Mr. Mulvaney: I’m sorry? This speaks to an
important point, because I heard this yesterday and
I can never remember the gentleman who testified. Was it McKinney, the guy
— was that his name? I don’t know him. He testified yesterday. And if you go — and if
you believe the news reports — okay? Because we’ve not seen
any transcripts of this. The only transcript I’ve
seen was Sondland’s testimony this morning. 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. The Press: What about the
Bidens, Mr. Mulvaney? Mr. Mulvaney: I’m
talking to Mr. Karl. 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’s no
problem with that. Yes, sir. The Press: I just — The
Press: Mr. Mulvaney, what about the Bidens,
though, Mr. Mulvaney? Did that come into
consideration when that money was held up? Mr. Mulvaney: I’m sorry, I
don’t know your name, but he’s being very rude. So go ahead and
ask your question. The Press: Just to
clarify, and just to follow up on that
question: So, when you’re saying that politics is
going to be involved — Mr. Mulvaney: Yeah. The Press: — 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
— Mr. Mulvaney: No. The DNC — the DNC server
— The Press: Are you saying that it’s
okay for the U.S. government to hold up aid
and require a foreign government to investigate
political opponents of the President? Mr. Mulvaney: Now, you’re
talking about looking forward to the
next election. We’re talking — The
Press: Even the DNC. The DNC is still involved
in this next election. Is that not correct? Mr. Mulvaney: So,
wait a second. So there’s — The Press:
So are you saying — Mr. Mulvaney:
Hold on a second. No, let me ask you — The
Press: But you’re asking to investigate
the DNC, right? Mr. Mulvaney: So, let’s
look at this — The Press: Is the DNC political
opponents of the President? Mr. Mulvaney: There’s an
ongoing — there’s an ongoing investigation by
our Department of Justice into the 2016 election. I can’t remember
that person’s name. The Press: Durham. Mr. Mulvaney: 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. The Press: And so you
would say that it’s fine to ask about the DNC
but not about Biden? So, Biden is now —
Biden is running for the Democratic
nomination, right? Mr. Mulvaney: Yeah. The Press:
That’s for 2020. So are you drawing
that distinction? Mr. Mulvaney: That’s a
hypothetical because that did not happen here. The Press: No, no, but
— the President — Mr. Mulvaney: But I would
ask you — The Press: 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? Mr. Mulvaney: No, the
money held up had absolutely nothing
to do with Biden. There’s no question. And that was the
point I made to you. The Press: And you’re
drawing a distinction? Mr. Mulvaney: Yeah. The Press: You’re saying
that it would be wrong — Mr. Mulvaney: Three
— three factors. The Press: — to hold up
money for the Bidens? Mr. Mulvaney: Again, I was
involved with the process by which the money was
held up temporarily, okay? Three issues for that: the
corruption of 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. The Press: Thank you. Regarding the Secretary
over at the State Department, the Deputy
Assistant Secretary for Asian — 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 — Mr. Mulvaney:
Who said that? The Press: It
was George Kent. Mr. Mulvaney: I’m sorry. I don’t know who that is. Is that somebody who
testified this week? The Press: Yes. Mr. Mulvaney: 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. The Press: Okay. And also, another thing
is, is that there have been reports that you had
been conducting a review of the phone call with
Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian President. And the question is: What
are you — what are you — is that true? Do you acknowledge that
you’ve been conducting that review? Mr. Mulvaney: Well, we’re
certainly — The Press: Or was the call just perfect,
as the President has said? Mr. Mulvaney: 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 read it several times. By the way, I was not on
the call; someone from 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 in here thought there was
any difficulty with it. Let’s get to your point
about what we’re doing inside. The Press: So was this
an attempt to actually uncover the whistleblower? Was that what
this is about? Mr. Mulvaney: No. No, no. Here’s what it is: It was
like, look, if you get — 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 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 didn’t — 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. Yes. Yes, ma’am. I’m trying to get folks
who haven’t asked a question yet. The Press: 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? Mr. Mulvaney: No, that’s
the President’s call. I mean, I — actually,
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 think — I understand, from reading
his opening testimony, that Gordon Sondland
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. If the President wants to
fire me today and hire somebody else, he can. The Press: Even if he’s
operating separately from the actual, like —
Mr. Mulvaney: The President gets to set
foreign policy and he gets to choose who to do so. As long as he doesn’t
violate any law — okay? — and he doesn’t
violate laws regarding confidential information
or classified material or anything like that, the
President gets to use who he wants to use. The Press: A follow-up? A follow-up on that? The Press: Did the
President direct you or anyone else to work with
Rudy Giuliani on Ukraine? Mr. Mulvaney: Um, yeah. The — when was it? It was the May meeting,
and I think this has been widely reported. In fact, I think Sondland
mentioned it in his testimony, and I’m pretty
sure that Rick Perry mentioned it in his
interview yesterday with the Wall Street Journal,
that in the May meeting in the Oval Office that I
was in — I think Senator Johnson was there, as well
as Mr. Volker was there — the President asked
Rick Perry to work with Mr. Giuliani. The Press: And did you
think that that was appropriate when you
were asked as well? Mr. Mulvaney:
I wasn’t asked. The Press: You
were not asked? Mr. Mulvaney: No. The Press: That was my
question: Were you or anyone else asked? Mr. Mulvaney: And I
think the answer to your question is that — The
Press: So, you were not asked? Just Rick Perry? Mr. Mulvaney: The
President told Rick Perry, who I think was sort of —
you know, he was — the issue — one of the
reasons they were in there, obviously talking
about energy — they were very interested in trying
to get Ukraine as an energy partner. That’s why Mr. Perry —
Secretary Perry — was so heavily involved. And that’s when the
President said to Mr. Perry, “Go ahead and
talk to Rudy.” The Press: Fiona Hill said that was
a shadow foreign policy. Mr. Mulvaney: Yes, you
haven’t asked a question yet. Yes. The Press: Was that a
shadow foreign policy? Mr. Mulvaney: Shadow? Hold it. A 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 — The
Press: Operating outside the normal channels. Mr. Mulvaney: Normal chan-
— who else was in the room? Rudy Giuli- — who’s
in the room when the President is having this
conversation, okay? It’s Gordon Sondland, our
Ambassador to the EU; Kurt Volker, who is our Special
Designated Envoy to the Ukraine. I sat next to Mike Pen- —
Mike Pompeo yesterday at the meeting with the
congressional leaders, and I said, “Look, I
understand I coordinated a coup against you by
putting — by putting Sondland and Volker in
charge of Ukraine policy.” And he leans back to me,
and 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. The Press: You were
comfortable with Rudy Giuliani’s role? Mr. Mulvaney: I’m 100
percent comfortable with that. Yes, sir. The Press: You
called on me. Director Mulvaney,
you called on me. Mr. Mulvaney:
Oh, I’m sorry. I did. I did. Yes, I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Yes. The Press: No problem. First, to follow on that
question, can you describe the role that you played
in pressuring Ukraine to investigate the Bidens? And secondly — Mr.
Mulvaney: Yeah, none. The Press: — 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? Mr. Mulvaney: The first
question to your answer — the first answer to
your question is: None. I didn’t have any —
what was your question? What did I do to
Ukraine or something? Nothing. The Press: Did you do
anything to pressure Ukraine to investigate
the Bidens? Mr. Mulvaney: No. So what’s the
second question? The Press: The second
question is about the meeting — Mr. Mulvaney:
That he “dangled”? That’s an interesting —
The Press: — that was supposed to happen here at
the White House between the two Presidents? Mr. Mulvaney: Yeah — The
Press: Can 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? Mr. Mulvaney: 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 — The Press:
I’m sorry, investigating the Bidens, then? Mr. Mulvaney: 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 that you
all have missed is the President didn’t want
to take the meeting. The President didn’t want
to have a phone call. That was mis- — Rick
Perry was pushing for that. The Press: On the phone
call, he said, “I’ll see you here at the White
House,” didn’t he? Mr. Mulvaney: At the end. Yes. But that’s — I think that
was a courtesy that he was extending at the time. And he’s not
been here yet. But the — The Press: So
he was never realistically entertaining a meeting
with President Zelensky? Mr. Mulvaney: I mean, I
think — 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 —
The Press: (Inaudible.) Mr. Mulvaney: Excuse me. I’m going to answer
her question. That — I don’t remember a
serious conversation about setting up an
actual meeting. There were no
dates discussed. There was not — 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. The Press: Is the
President still planning to welcome President
Erdogan at the White House on November 13th? Mr. Mulvaney: Yeah. I think that — 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 it’s not going — 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 has been
very clear about what he wants to see out of
President Erdogan. He wants a ceasefire now. He wants prisoners
protected. He — I think, go down the
long list of the things the President has
mentioned to President Erdogan. 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. The Press: You just said
you were involved in the process in which, you
know, the money being held up temporarily. You named three issues for
that: the corruption in the country; whether or
not the country — they were assisting with an
ongoing investigation into corruption. How is that not an
establishment of an exchange, of a
quid pro quo? You just seem to continue
to be establishing this, and then — Mr. Mulvaney:
It’s quid pro — those are the terms that you use. I mean, go look at what
Gordon Sondland 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 — 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 we
then — you can sort of announce that at the — on
the phone call or at the meeting. This is the ordinary
course of foreign policy. Yes. I’m sorry. The Press: Mr. Mulvaney,
is it appropriate for any President or this
President to pressure a foreign country to
investigate a political opponent? Mr. Mulvaney: You know,
every time I get that question, that’s one of
those things about — The Press: It’s a
simple question. Mr. Mulvaney: It is, but
so is, “When did you stop beating your wife?” The Press: So
what’s the answer? Mr. Mulvaney: It assumes
that the President has done that. The Press: Well,
what’s the answer? I said “any President.”
Mr. Mulvaney: We haven’t done that. The Press: I said
Mr. Trump or any President. Mr. Mulvaney: I’m not —
I’m going to talk about what this President did. Yes, ma’am. The Press: The other thing
I have is: 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? Mr. Mulvaney: You know, I
don’t know how to answer that question except that
— I mean, Mr. Giuliani is his personal lawyer, and
if the President wants to use him — The Press: So
is it 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 in his interest
— Mr. Mulvaney: I don’t know of anything
inappropriate about that. Yes, sir. The Press: Thank
you, Mr. Mulvaney. Mr. Mulvaney: Oh, yeah. I’m sorry, the lady in
the back is very nice. Yes, ma’am. The Press: Thank
you, Mr. Mulvaney. You say that the U.S. foreign policy will
change, not like in previous administrations. How does the President
respond about the North Korea’s break-off
talks with the U.S. (inaudible)? Mr. Mulvaney: If the
question is responding to breaking off talks, is
there news in the last couple of days on that? The Press: Yes. October 5th,
Stockholm, in Sweden. Mr. Mulvaney: Okay. I’m sorry. I’m not — I’m just not
briefed on that, and I apologize. Yes, sir. The Press: Thank
you, Mr. Mulvaney. Mr. Mulvaney: Yeah. And I’ll take one
more after this. The Press: There have been
published reports that you are objecting within the
President’s official family to the appointment
of Ken Cuccinelli to head up the Department of
Homeland Security. Is that so? And if so, what is your
objection to his possible appointment? Mr. Mulvaney: I have none. And I think Ken would
be good at the job. Yes, ma’am. I’m 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? The Press: (Inaudible.)
Mr. Mulvaney: I’m sorry. The Press: Same with
me, Mr. Mulvaney. The Press: So, if there
was no quid pro quo on the call, if it was routine,
if he didn’t even want to do it, and, you know, it’s
all — is on the up and up, why didn’t it have
to go into this more restricted server? Why was it moved from the
one server to the other? Mr. Mulvaney: All right. Let’s — let’s —
I’m glad we got that. It’s a good 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 am not going to sit here
and talk about how we handle classified
information in this building, okay? I got a couple questions
before about my private conversations with the
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? And it’s because they
think there’s a cover-up. They hope there’s a cov-
— some of them hope that there’s a cover-up; that,
“Oh my goodness gracious. There must have 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? 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
have them look at the transcript of the tape? Which we did, by the way. All right? 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 this concern about, “Oh, the document
has been edited and what do these ellipses
stand for?” Because I heard Adam
Schiff go on television yesterday and — or,
yesterday or the day before — and say, “You
know, we don’t need to hear from the
whistleblower anymore because now we have the
transcript,” or the memorandum of
communication, memorandum of document, okay? 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 there,
because there’s no cover-up. And I can prove it to
you by our actions. Look, I know we can
do this all night. No, I’m not going
to take any more. But it’s nice — it’s
nice to see everybody. Thanks again.

Robin Kshlerin

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