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Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said on "Fox News Sunday" that reporters misinterpreted comments he made on Oct. 17 about President Trump conditioning $400 million in aid to Ukraine on its government opening political investigations.

The exchange:

MULVANEY: "You've again said, just a few seconds ago, that I said there was a quid pro quo. Never use that language, because there is not a quid pro quo."
CHRIS WALLACE: "You were asked by Jonathan Karl, 'You've described a quid pro quo,' and you said, 'That happens all the time.'"
MULVANEY: "Reporters will use their language all the time, so my language never said quid pro quo. But let's get back to the heart of the matter. Go back and look at that list of the three things. What was I talking about? Things that it was legitimate for the president to do. No. 1, it is legitimate for the president to want to know what's going on with the ongoing investigation into the server. Everyone acknowledges that. ... No. 2, it is legitimate to tie the aid to corruption. It is legitimate to tie the aid to foreign aid from other countries. That's what I was talking about with the three. Can I see how people took that the wrong way? Absolutely. But I never said there was a quid pro quo because there isn't."

The big picture: House Democrats opened an impeachment inquiry into President Trump over allegations that he pressured Ukraine to investigate his political opponent, Joe Biden.

  • In his press conference, Mulvaney emphasized that Biden was never part of the calculus in suspending the military aid, but he said that Ukraine's willingness to investigate a conspiracy theory involving a Democratic Party computer server was certainly a factor.

Reality check: The assertion that the DNC's hacked server is in Ukraine is part of an easily debunked right-wing conspiracy theory that alleges that CrowdStrike, the first firm to publicly release evidence that Russia perpetrated the DNC hack, made up information to fuel the Russia investigation.

The big picture: Mulvaney's comments elicited widespread shock and claims that Trump's top aide had publicly admitted to a quid pro quo.

  • Later that day, Mulvaney said in a statement: "The president never told me to withhold any money until the Ukrainians did anything related to the server. The only reasons we were holding the money was because of concern about lack of support from other nations and concerns over corruption."
  • Mulvaney told Wallace that he "absolutely" did not offer Trump his resignation after the press conference: "I'm very happy working there. Did I have the perfect press conference? No. But again, the facts are on our side."

Go deeper: Trump's shout-it-out-loud strategy for allegations of illegality

Go deeper

45 mins ago - Health

U.S. tops 88,000 COVID-19 cases, setting new single-day record

Expand chart
Data: COVID Tracking Project; Chart: Axios Visuals

The United States reported 88,452 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, setting a single-day record, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project.

The big picture: The country confirmed 1,049 additional deaths due to the virus, and there are over 46,000 people currently being hospitalized, suggesting the U.S. is experiencing a third wave heading into the winter months.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Large coronavirus outbreaks leading to high death rates — Coronavirus cases are at an all-time high ahead of Election Day.
  2. Politics: Top HHS spokesperson pitched coronavirus ad campaign as "helping the president" — Space Force's No. 2 general tests positive for coronavirus.
  3. World: Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases.
  4. Sports: MLB to investigate Dodgers player who joined celebration after positive COVID test.
  5. 🎧Podcast: The vaccine race turns toward nationalism.

The norms around science and politics are cracking

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Crafting successful public health measures depends on the ability of top scientists to gather data and report their findings unrestricted to policymakers.

State of play: But concern has spiked among health experts and physicians over what they see as an assault on key science protections, particularly during a raging pandemic. And a move last week by President Trump, via an executive order, is triggering even more worries.