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Mnuchin: Military aid to Ukraine 'not connected' to Trump phone call

Evie Fordham

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Sunday that a recent release of aid money to Ukraine was "not connected" to a call between President Donald Trump and Ukraine's president that has been at the center of a media firestorm.

"These are foreign policy issues. They've been discussed at the National Security Council, at the principals level," Mnuchin said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "These were not connected issues."

The U.S. sent Ukraine hundreds of millions of dollars in military assistance earlier in September. Some lawmakers said they had to pressure the administration to release the money.

A secret whistleblower complaint, which the director of national intelligence kept from Congress, touched off the controversy, which even touches former Vice President Joe Biden.

The complaint reportedly involved Trump asking Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky numerous times in a July 25 phone call to investigate Biden's son Hunter Biden. The younger Biden has ties to a Ukrainian natural gas company that has been investigated for corruption. Joe Biden faced scrutiny for months over his past role pressuring Ukraine to fire its top prosecutor while he was leading an investigation into that company.

Mnuchin also said that releasing a transcript of President Donald Trump's conversation with Ukraine's president would set a "difficult precedent" on Sunday.

"What I have a problem with is Congress asking for a transcript between world leaders. I think those are confidential discussions, and that's a difficult precedent," he said.

"I wasn't on this call, but I've been on many calls with world leaders. So, first of all, there are multiple people on these calls," Mnuchin said on Sunday. "I think it would be highly inappropriate to release a transcript of a call between two world leaders. The bigger story here is what went on with Biden and his son."

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Fox News' John Roberts asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo if the aid money was linked to Trump's reported request to investigate Biden.

"I've watched this president evaluate how and when and to the extent we should provide support to Ukraine, both defense services and other foreign assistance. Those conversations have always been 100% appropriate, 100% lawful and 100% ensuring that the American taxpayers were protected," Pompeo responded on "Fox News Sunday."

He also said it is "completely appropriate" to evaluate foreign aid based on U.S. priorities.

"We have foreign assistance that is evaluated against American objectives consistently," Pompeo said. "It's my duty to protect America by making sure that when foreign assistance is provided to countries, America benefit from that"

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