Pompeo on Mulvaney admission of quid pro quo: 'I never saw that in the decisionmaking process'

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - George Floyd's death sparks protests, National Guard activation Government watchdog: 'No evidence' Pompeo violated Hatch Act with Kansas trips Inspector general fired over leaks had been cleared of wrongdoing before ouster: report MORE on Sunday responded to acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyMick Mulvaney12 things to know today about coronavirus Mulvaney: 'We've overreacted a little bit' to coronavirus The Memo: Trump agenda rolls on amid pandemic MORE’s admission — which he has since walked back — that the White House made aid to Ukraine conditional on political investigations by saying he "never saw that."

“I never saw that in the decisionmaking process that I was a part of,” Pompeo said on ABC’s “This Week,” adding, “The conversation was always around, what were the strategic implications? Would that money get to the right place?”

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Pompeo repeatedly demurred on “talk[ing] about internal deliberations” at the State Department with host George StephanopoulosGeorge Robert StephanopoulosSanders pushes back on doubts supporters will back Biden Sunday shows - Trump trade adviser knocks Obama, whistleblower, CDC Navarro says whistleblower 'deserted' in an 'American tragedy' MORE and said he would not discuss a “hypothetical” about the appropriateness of conditioning foreign aid on political investigations, despite the host noting that Mulvaney said it had, in fact, occurred.

"I will leave it to the chief of staff to explain what it is he said," Pompeo said. "I’m telling you what I was involved with. I’m telling you what I saw."

Stephanopoulos pressed Pompeo on whether it would be appropriate for the White House to make aid conditional on political investigations.

“I'm not going to get into hypotheticals and secondary things based on what someone else has said,” Pompeo said, prompting Stephanopoulos to respond, “Well, except it's not a hypothetical. We saw the chief of staff, the acting chief of staff right there.”

“You just said, ‘If this happened.’ That is, by definition, a hypothetical,” Pompeo countered.

Mulvaney said in a press conference last week that Ukrainian aid was delayed while the White House sought an investigation into the 2016 election.

There is “going to be political influence in foreign policy,” he said. “Get over it.”

Mulvaney has since walked back the comment, saying, “There was absolutely no quid pro quo between Ukrainian military aid and any investigation into the 2016 election.”

Pompeo also defended the involvement of President TrumpDonald John TrumpMinneapolis erupts for third night, as protests spread, Trump vows retaliation Stocks open mixed ahead of Trump briefing on China The island that can save America MORE’s personal attorney Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiSunday shows preview: States begin to reopen even as some areas in US see case counts increase Moussaoui says he now renounces terrorism, bin Laden Democrats launch probe into Trump's firing of State Department watchdog, Pompeo MORE in Ukraine diplomacy, telling Stephanopoulos that “private citizens often are part of executing American foreign policy” and again refusing to discuss “internal deliberations” when asked whether the State Department reviewed Giuliani’s possible conflicts of interest in Ukraine.

Pompeo also pushed back on criticism that he failed to defend former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.

"We’ve done great things for these officers," he said. "I see these stories about morale being low. I see things precisely the opposite. ... I will always defend them when it’s appropriate."