Thanks to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed by the Center for Public Integrity, a federal judge ordered the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Pentagon to release documents related to the White House freezing military aid to Ukraine.
From The Hill:
According to the documents, shortly after President Trump’s now-infamous July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, White House aides were tasked with halting the $391 million of military aid.
Trump’s phone call with Zelensky, and the withholding of aid, is at the center of the impeachment proceedings that began in the House and will now move to the Senate in the new year.
The obtained documents contain emails sent by senior White House official Michael Duffey. Duffey, a Trump appointee, works through the OMB and is responsible for overseeing national security money.
“Based on guidance I have received and in light of the Administration’s plan to review assistance to Ukraine, including the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, please hold off on any additional DoD obligations of these funds, pending direction from that process,” Duffey wrote to OMB and Pentagon officials on July 25.
“Given the sensitive nature of the request, I appreciate your keeping that information closely held to those who need to know to execute direction,” Duffey added.
The freeze of the aid apparently raised eyebrows at the OMB and other government agencies, with many worried that the delay of aid would make it hard for the assistance to go through before Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year.
🚨This is breaking news and it’s important. New documents show:
1. Ukraine aid was held just hours after the Trump/Zelensky “do us a favor” call
2. Internal notes show Trump’s direct involvement
3. Staff knew it was wrong, kept it secrethttps://t.co/KHhS99oP0h
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) December 21, 2019
Just-released documents show the White House moved to stop vital military aid to #Ukraine less than two hours after his July 25 call with Ukraine’s President https://t.co/ZEKnDaWmNY Here’s a White House memo to the Pentagon: #UkraineDocs pic.twitter.com/lOkhBZOpbq
— David Beard (@dabeard) December 21, 2019
If there is nothing wrong with withholding the aid, why didn’t Michael Duffey want anyone to know about what he was doing?
If the call was so perfect, why is the email so “sensitive” that it should be kept hush-hush?
What are they afraid of? pic.twitter.com/TYDLKB3SYG
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) December 22, 2019