WESM

Dana Farrington

Updated at 3:35 p.m. ET

White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney acknowledged Thursday that President Trump expected concessions from Ukraine's president in exchange for engagement — but said that's just how business is done in diplomacy.

Mulvaney was asked whether it was a quid pro quo for the White House to condition a meeting between Trump and Ukraine's president on an agreement by Ukraine to launch an investigation that might help Trump politically.

Updated at 3:24 p.m. ET

White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney acknowledged several substantial facts about the Ukraine affair on Thursday — but disputed that it was inappropriate or that the administration even was trying to hide what it had done.

Mulvaney acknowledged that President Trump expected concessions from his Ukrainian counterpart in exchange for engagement and also that Trump had empowered his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, to run what has been called a parallel foreign policy for Ukraine on his own.

Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the European Union, is speaking to Congress behind closed doors on Thursday as part of the House's impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

In his prepared remarks, the former businessman says: "as we go through this process, I understand that some people may have their own specific agendas: some may want me to say things to protect the President at all costs; some may want me to provide damning facts to support the other side. But none of that matters to me. ... Simply put, I am NOT here to push an agenda. I am here to tell the truth."

Updated at 12:33 p.m. ET

President Trump said Monday that his door might be open for meetings with Iran's president and China's leader as he concluded his visit to the G-7 summit in France, but it isn't clear what if any action may come next.

Trump said he believes Beijing "wants a deal very badly" to end its trade war with Washington and that he'd consider meeting with Iran's president if Tehran came to terms over its nuclear program.

"If the circumstances were correct or right I would certainly agree to that," Trump said.

The Senate intelligence committee has released its report on foreign interference in the 2016 presidential election.

The report, which also includes recommendations for future security, came out the day after former special counsel Robert Mueller testified about his office's investigation into Russian attacks.

Mueller and intelligence officials have warned that the threat from 2016 persists, though Congress has been slow to take action.

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