"You were directly involved in the decision to withhold funding from Ukraine. Can you explain to us now definitively why?"
2. SOUNDBITE (English) Mick Mulvaney, Acting Chief of Staff:
"I've been in the office a couple times with him (President Donald Trump) talking about this. 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 as your context. He's like this is a corrupt place. I don't want to send them a bunch of money and have them waste and 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 it, when the might when we 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. 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. As, 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 that still to this day are not. And the president did not like that. I know this is a long answer your question, I'm still going. So, that was those were the driving factors. Did he also mentioned to me and past that, that 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."
3. SOUNDBITE (English) Jon Karl, ABC reporter:
"So, the demand for an investigation into the Democrats was part of the reason he ordered to withhold funding to Ukraine?"
4. SOUNDBITE (English) Mick Mulvaney, Acting Chief of Staff:
"The look back to what happened in 2016. Certainly was, was part of the thing that he was worried about in corruption with that nation and that is absolutely appropriate.
"On the call the president did ask about investigating the Bidens. Are you saying that the money that was held up, that had nothing to do with the Bidens?"
7. SOUNDBITE (English) Mick Mulvaney, Acting Chief of Staff:
"No, the money that was held up had absolutely nothing to with Biden and that was the point I made to you.
(Reporter: And you're drawing a distinction? You are saying it would be wrong ...)
There were three three factors. Again, I was I was involved with the process by which the money was held up temporarily. Three issues for that: the corruption in the country, whether or not other countries were participating in the support of Ukraine and whether or not they were cooperating in an ongoing investigation with our Department of Justice. That's completely legitimate."
The White House is acknowledging that President Donald Trump asked Ukraine's leader to investigate his country's role in meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.
Acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said Thursday that Trump held up military assistance to Ukraine in part because of concern about corruption in that country.
He said they also wanted Ukraine's cooperation in investigating whether Democratic National Committee's email servers were in Ukraine.
"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, adding "and that is absolutely appropriate."
They also were looking at levels of assistance European nations were providing to Ukraine, he said.
Mulvaney denies there was a quid pro quo and says "we do that all the time with foreign policy."
He pointed to the example of the administration holding up aid to Central American countries to force them to change their policies on immigration.
Trump ultimately released nearly $400 million in military and other aid to Ukraine.