Kellyanne Conway says she doesn't know whether Ukraine aid was held up over Biden probe

"I feel confident that Ukraine has that aid and is using it right now," Conway said, adding, "I don't know whether aid was being held up."
Image: White House counselor Kellyanne Conway speaks to reporters on May 1, 2019.
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway speaks to reporters on May 1, 2019.Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images file

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By Allan Smith

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said Sunday that she doesn't know whether President Donald Trump held up aid to Ukraine to pressure the country's new leadership to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, although she said all that matters is "they've got their aid."

"It's not impeachable," Conway said on CNN's "State of the Union" of Trump's conduct toward Ukraine. "And that's where we are now."

"And Dana, let's be fair, Ukraine got the aid," she told CNN's Dana Bash. "As you and I sit here, one presumes they're using that aid. The Ukrainian president said he felt no pressure. He never knew aid was being held up."

She repeated that point at numerous junctures of the interview, saying of Ukraine, "They have the aid, they're using the aid" and, "Here's what's unimpeachably true: Ukraine has that aid.Yhey're using the aid."

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"I feel confident that Ukraine has that aid and is using it right now," she said, adding, "I don't know whether aid was being held up."

Conway's comments come as current and former administration officials have testified before the House impeachment inquiry that they believe Trump tried to pressure Ukraine to publicly announce investigations of the Bidens and a debunked conspiracy involving Democrats and the 2016 presidential election by holding up military aid.

"In an extraordinary development, even the Trump adviser who coined the term 'alternative facts' is unwilling to say that Donald Trump didn't subvert American national security with a quid pro quo that would force a foreign country to lie about the candidate who's beaten him in over 70 polls," Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates said in a statement.

The top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, Bill Taylor, told members of Congress last month that Trump directed officials to tie foreign aid to those investigations. Tim Morrison, a top National Security Council adviser on Russia and Europe, who resigned prior to testifying last week, told Congress he was concerned by the July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and confirmed the "substance" of Taylor's testimony, two sources familiar with Morrison's testimony told NBC News. Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the National Security Council's top Ukraine expert who was also on the July 25 call, also told Congress last week he "did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen."

Meanwhile, The Washington Post reported Friday that a growing number of Republican senators are ready to acknowledge that Trump leveraged military aid to Ukraine to that the country would announce probes of Biden and Democrats, saying that does not amount to an impeachable offense, though it runs counter to Trump's insistence of no quid pro quo taking place. That comes as House Democrats last week passed a resolution laying out the next steps in the impeachment probe.

Speaking with "Fox News Sunday," Conway said that if Trump conditioned military aid, appropriated by Congress, on Ukraine probing the Bidens, it would not be impeachable.

"Is it a high crime and misdemeanor? I wouldn't think so," Conway said, adding that host Chris Wallace was giving her a "hypothetical that the Democrats want to be true."

Following Conway on "Fox News Sunday" was Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., who said Conway's interview was "ludicrous TV" and one of the most "unfactual" statements from a White House official he had ever heard.

The impeachment inquiry was launched in response to a whistleblower complaint about the Trump-Ukraine call and the administration's subsequent response. Trump has insisted that no impropriety took place, tweeting dozens of times that the whistleblower's complaint was false. The Trump-appointed intelligence community inspector general deemed the complaint credible while the Trump-appointed acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire told Congress the whistleblower had acted in "good faith."