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Chaotic Week At The White House


Quite a week in Washington - worth reviewing before we start a new one. And we can limit our review just to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.


MICK MULVANEY: The money held up had absolutely nothing to do with Biden. There's no - and that was the point I made to you.

AYESHA RASCOE, BYLINE: And you're drawing a distinction. You're saying that it would be wrong...

MULVANEY: There were three factors - again, I was involved with the process by which the money was held up temporarily, OK? Three issues for that - the corruption in 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.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That was acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney in the White House press briefing room, and he was speaking to NPR White House reporter Ayesha Rascoe, who joins us now.


RASCOE: Hello.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Mulvaney almost immediately tried to clean up comments he made during that press conference Thursday. How successful has he been so far in doing that?

RASCOE: I'm not sure that it's really worked for him. He was given multiple opportunities to clarify what happened with this aid for Ukraine and why it was held up. And you know, as we just heard, he said that one of the reasons the money was held up was to look into this debunked conspiracy theory about the DNC server in the 2016 election. That's the ongoing investigation he referred to. Then hours later, he's releasing a statement saying his words were misconstrued, even though his language was plain and he was asked about this multiple times.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right. Here's another clip, this one from just outside the West Wing.


NANCY PELOSI: I think that vote - the size of the vote - more than 2-to-1 of the Republicans voted to oppose what the president did - probably got to the president because he was shaken up by it. And that's why we couldn't continue in the meeting - because he was just not relating to the reality of it.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Nancy Pelosi after walking out of a meeting with the president Wednesday. She says he had a meltdown after the House voted to oppose yanking troops from Syria. And Ayesha, this shows a level of chaos that's notable even for this famously chaotic White House.

RASCOE: There are really just, like, a number of issues colliding all at one time. You have the impeachment inquiry, and then you have Republicans coming out against the way Trump handled Syria - his change in policy. And that's really unprecedented for this president at this point. And so all of this is just all happening at the same time.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's NPR White House reporter Ayesha Rascoe. Thank you so much.

RASCOE: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ayesha Rascoe is a White House correspondent for NPR. She is currently covering her third presidential administration. Rascoe's White House coverage has included a number of high profile foreign trips, including President Trump's 2019 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam, and President Obama's final NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland in 2016. As a part of the White House team, she's also a regular on the NPR Politics Podcast.