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Schiff: Mulvaney comments on Ukraine aid have made things 'much, much worse'
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said Thursday that acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney's comments linked the withholding of aid to Ukraine to investigations into the 2016 election have made things "much worse" for the president.
"I think Mr. Mulvaney's acknowledgment means that things have gone from very, very bad to much, much worse," Schiff, a key Democrat in the impeachment inquiry of President Trump, told reporters Thursday.
Schiff demurred when asked how Mulvaney's comments would affect the pace of the House's impeachment inquiry.
Schiff later expanded on his comments when speaking to reporters before heading back into a closed-door deposition of Trump's ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland.
"The idea that vital military systems would be withheld for such a patently political reason, for the reason of serving the president's reelection campaign, is a phenomenal breach of the president's duty to defend our national security," Schiff said.
Schiff added that he hopes every member of Congress, Democrat and Republican, will "speak out and condemn this illicit action by the president and his chief of staff."
Schiff did not respond to questions over whether Mulvaney will be brought in to testify as part of the ongoing impeachment inquiry.
The California lawmaker's comments come after Mulvaney had earlier indicated that the Trump administration held up military aid to Ukraine in part because officials wanted Kiev to investigate unproven election interference allegations linking the country to a Democratic National Committee (DNC) server.
"I have news for everybody. Get over it. There's going to be political influence in foreign policy ... that's going to happen. Elections have consequences," Mulvaney told reporters Thursday, saying "we do that all the time with foreign policy" when asked if a "quid pro quo" was involved in the eventual release of the aid.
Mulvaney denied any aid was withheld to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son.
The comments came the same day that Sondland testified. He was expected to tell members that a text message in which he said Trump "didn't want a quid pro quo ... didn't want anything from Ukraine" was dictated by Trump himself.
Energy Secretary Rick Perry told The Wall Street Journal this week that he had been told to talk to Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani to set up a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and that Giuliani had repeatedly invoked conspiracy theories about the 2016 election and Biden.
-- Updated at 4:02 p.m.