Ukraine Aid Freeze Came From the Top, Emails Show

Site gets a look at unredacted documents
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 2, 2020 6:57 PM CST
Emails Show Official Relayed Trump's Order Freezing Aid
President Trump speaks to reporters before his New Year's Eve party on Tuesday.   (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

When the Defense Department warned that holding up military aid to Ukraine might be illegal, an OMB official let the Pentagon know where the order was coming from. There was "clear direction from POTUS to continue to hold," Michael Duffy wrote, CNN reports that a new review of unredacted documents shows. The documents, including officials' emails, were reviewed by Just Security, a national security site. A court had ordered their release last month, but much of the content had been blacked out. Duffy's email, sent about two months into the freeze, had not been provided to House impeachment investigators. The documents show the Pentagon expressed a series of concerns about not sending Ukraine the money, including uncertainty about what would happen to it if the appropriation wasn't spend by the legal deadline, Sept. 30.

The document review raises questions about the redactions, as they were the subject of congressional oversight efforts and Freedom of Information Act filings. "These redactions at least raise eyebrows," one expert said, adding that it's difficult to tell if the act was broken. "But does it appear suspicious given the damning nature of what was withheld, and the current government's obvious motivation for withholding it." The redacted text included not only the Pentagon warnings but basic information, all of which Aaron Blake calls in a Washington Post analysis "puzzling and even suspicious." (Read more Trump impeachment stories.)

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