In unredacted emails, Trump di­rected holdup of US aid to Ukraine

Orlando Sentinel - - NATION & WORLD - By Dave Goldiner

Unredacted emails show that the White House des­per­ately sought to stonewall the De­fense De­part­ment and Congress over Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s sus­pen­sion of hun­dreds of mil­lions in mil­i­tary aid to Ukraine — and that Trump di­rected the holdup of the des­per­ately needed as­sis­tance even as Pen­tagon of­fi­cials cried foul.

The emails pub­lished by the Just Se­cu­rity site Thurs­day

re­veal an ex­ten­sive cam­paign by Of­fice of Man­age­ment and Bud­get of­fi­cials to avoid dis­clos­ing de­tails about the po­lit­i­cally ex­plo­sive de­ci­sion — even to fel­low Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials.

The House im­peached Trump last month. The im­peach­ment in­ves­ti­ga­tion has since re­vealed Trump hoped to use the cut­off as lever­age to get Ukraine to open po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated in­ves­ti­ga­tions of his ri­vals.

“Clear di­rec­tion from POTUS to con­tinue to hold,” wrote Michael Duf­fey, as­so­ciate di­rec­tor of na­tional se­cu­rity pro­grams at OMB on Aug. 30.

The on­go­ing sus­pen­sion an­gered Pen­tagon bu­reau­crats, who warned that it would trig­ger le­gal re­quire­ments to no­tify Congress, a step the White House wanted to avoid for po­lit­i­cal rea­sons.

The De­fense De­part­ment of­fi­cials also warned that Trump’s stance was en­dan­ger­ing the aid from ever be­ing re­leased be­cause of a dead­line caused by the end of the fis­cal year in Septem­ber.

“This sit­u­a­tion is re­ally un­work­able,” Elaine McCusker, the act­ing Pen­tagon comp­trol­ler, wrote in one mes­sage.

“(It’s) par­tic­u­larly dif­fi­cult be­cause OMB lawyers con­tinue to con­sis­tently mis­char­ac­ter­ize the process.”

House In­tel­li­gence Chair­man Adam Schiff, who led the im­peach­ment in­quiry, said his in­ves­ti­ga­tors sub­poe­naed the “deeply in­crim­i­nat­ing” emails as part of their probe, but the ad­min­is­tra­tion re­fused to hand them over.

Schiff, D-Calif., also said the emails cor­rob­o­rate tes­ti­mony that the White House knew it may have vi­o­lated the law by hold­ing up the aid, adding that their re­lease re­in­forces the need for “a fair” Se­nate im­peach­ment trial fea­tur­ing a re­view of all other records with­held by the ad­min­is­tra­tion.

“If they are not pro­duced, the Se­nate and the

Amer­i­can peo­ple must ask, what else is the pres­i­dent hid­ing?” Schiff said.

Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said the dam­ag­ing emails show why it’s cru­cial to also have the trial fea­ture tes­ti­mony from Duf­fey, act­ing chief of staff Mick Mul­vaney and for­mer na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser John Bolton — all of whom re­fused to par­tic­i­pate in the House pro­ceed­ings.

“The Amer­i­can peo­ple de­serve a fair trial that gets to the truth,” Schumer said.

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