But on Thursday, acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney briefly changed the White House's course and said the Trump administration had withheld $400 million in security aid from Ukraine to pressure Kyiv to investigate Democrats.
The president has fervently denied that any quid pro quo or misconduct occurred.
In a statement sent to reporters after the briefing, Mulvaney criticized the media for deciding to "misconstrue my comments".
The text messages raised eyebrows from Democrats who said the messages could be used as additional evidence that Trump had conditioned USA security assistance and meetings with Ukraine's leader on the opening of a politically beneficial investigation into Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter's relationship with the Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings.
It would be a remarkable accusation from Gordon Sondland, the Trump mega donor-turned-diplomat who has emerged as a central character in the rapidly unfolding impeachment inquiry - essentially confirming what critics have charged, that Trump wanted a so-called "quid pro quo" exchange for investigations that might benefit him politically.
"Please know that I would not have recommended that Mr. Giuliani or any private citizen be involved in these foreign policy matters", Sondland said in his statement.
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Mulvaney then cited another instance in which the administration held up money in order to influence another country's policies. Republicans lawmakers felt exasperated by the White House's lack of discipline and coordination.
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Huffman pleaded guilty in May to paying $15,000 U.S. to have her daughter's SAT scores boosted by approximately 400 points. Huffman is the first of more than 30 parents charged in the sprawling criminal case to begin serving a prison sentence.
Other evidence has undermined the White House's official narrative.
"Did he also mention to me in the past that the corruption related to the DNC server?" "But that's it. And that's why we held up the money", Mulvaney told reporters in the White House briefing room after saying Trump had also been concerned that European nations were not providing lethal aide to Ukraine. "The president never told me to withhold any money until the Ukrainians did anything related to the server", he said in the written statement released by the White House.
ABC News reporter Jonathan Karl noted that withholding $400 million in military aid in exchange for investigations into the USA election was, in fact, the very definition of quid pro quo, to which Mulvaney responded, "We do that all the time with foreign policy".
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy during a news conference on Capitol Hill on Friday.
"We used the same set of criteria that other administrations used", Mulvaney said. "And I recall the President was in a bad mood".
"Just because you've done nothing wrong does not mean you do not need a dedicated committed group of support staff dedicated to making sure that the American people understand that this is a witch hunt and why", said one Republican with ties to Trump.