The apparent quid pro quo Trump was offering Ukraine for election interference was flushed out further on Monday evening in a bombshell report by The Washington Post.
“President Trump told his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, to hold back almost $400 million in military aid for Ukraine at least a week before a phone call in which Trump is said to have pressured the Ukrainian president to investigate the son of former vice president Joe Biden, according to three senior administration officials,” the newspaper reported.
“Officials at the Office of Management and Budget relayed Trump’s order to the State Department and the Pentagon during an interagency meeting in mid-July, according to officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. They explained that the president had ‘concerns’ and wanted to analyze whether the money needed to be spent,” The Post reported. “Administration officials were instructed to tell lawmakers that the delays were part of an ‘interagency process’ but to give them no additional information — a pattern that continued for nearly two months, until the White House released the funds on the night of Sept. 11.”
The newspaper noted that Trump’s order is likely to “fuel suspicions on Capitol Hill that Trump sought to leverage congressionally approved aid to damage a political rival.”
The report was confirmed by The New York Times.
“President Trump directed the acting White House chief of staff to freeze more than $391 million in aid to Ukraine in the days before Mr. Trump was scheduled to speak by phone with the new Ukrainian president, two senior administration officials said Monday,” the newspaper reported. “The revelation that Mr. Trump ordered the aid package blocked, which was first reported by The Washington Post, adds a vital new element to the raging debate over pressure being put on Ukraine by Mr. Trump to investigate unsubstantiated allegations that former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter Biden had engaged in corrupt activities in dealing with Ukraine.”
The reports come against a backdrop of growing calls for impeachment.
“Mindful that Democrats may have only a brief window to decide their course, Speaker Nancy Pelosi summoned the leaders of six House committees involved in investigations of the president to meet on Tuesday, telling the lawmakers to come without aides. Afterward, she planned to convene a special meeting of the Democratic caucus to discuss impeachment,” The Times reported.