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