Top Ukrainian officials were alerted in early August that $391 million in U.S. military aid had been frozen as President Donald Trump sought to pressure the country to investigate Joe Biden.
That undercuts the president’s latest defense arguing that the foreign ally couldn’t have felt pressured because Ukraine was not yet aware that the aid had been frozen, reported the New York Times.
Former Ukraine ambassador Bill Taylor told Congress on Tuesday that the freeze was directly related to Trump’s demand for an announcement that Biden was under investigation.
But Trump approvingly quoted Republican Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX), who told Fox News on Wednesday morning that Taylor and other witnesses had been unable to provide evidence that Ukraine was aware of the delay.
Neither he (Taylor) or any other witness has provided testimony that the Ukrainians were aware that military aid was being withheld. You can’t have a quid pro quo with no quo.” Congressman John Ratcliffe @foxandfriends Where is the Whistleblower? The Do Nothing Dems case is DEAD!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 23, 2019
However, the Times reported that high-level Ukrainian officials were aware of the aid freeze, based on interviews and documents obtained by the newspaper.
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky became aware of the pause days after Trump asked him in a July 25 phone call that he wanted an investigation of Biden and his son Hunter Biden, as the newly elected foreign leader sought military aid and a possible White House visit.
Taylor testified that Ukrainian officials were told on the sidelines of a Sept. 1 meeting between Zelensky and Vice President Mike Pence that the aid was dependent on announcing an investigation into Burisma, the natural gas company that had employed Hunter Biden.