Trump's legal team is reportedly 'stunned' after Mick Mulvaney admitted to a quid pro quo

Kathryn Krawczyk

Maybe there's a reason Mick Mulvaney's gig never went full time.

The acting White House chief of staff admitted on Thursday the Trump administration had engaged in a quid pro quo with Ukraine, withholding aid from the country until its role in the 2016 DNC email hack was further investigated. But the rest of the Trump administration isn't being so forthcoming, with Justice Department officials brushing off possible roles in the exchange entirely.

"If the White House was withholding aid in regards to the cooperation of any investigation at the Department of Justice, that is news to us," a senior DOJ official said in a statement to reporters Thursday. This comes after another DOJ official told reporters they "have no idea what [Mulvaney] is talking about."

But over on President Trump's personal legal team, things aren't going so well. "I think people are a bit stunned," one person familiar with the team's thinking told CNN. Another source called Mulvaney's briefing "not helpful," per CNN. Trump's top attorney Jay Sekulow, meanwhile, briefly said "the legal team was not involved in the acting chief of staff's press briefing."

Mulvaney's shocking comments were briefly characterized as taking the impeachment inquiry "from very, very bad to much, much worse," House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said Thursday. After all, "no quid pro quo" has been Trump's simple defense from the day his call with Ukraine's president was first made public.