"It was only until he felt that he was being exposed that he actually stepped up and actually released the funds."
President Donald Trump was reportedly aware of the whistleblower complaint against him when he released $390 million in frozen military aid to Ukraine in early September, prompting allegations that Trump only released the funds because his actions came under serious scrutiny.
"The timeline is clear," said Sean Eldridge, founder of progressive advocacy group Stand Up America. "Trump only released the aid because he got caught."
The New York Times, citing two anonymous officials familiar with the matter, reported late Tuesday that "Trump had already been briefed on a whistleblower's complaint about his dealings with Ukraine when he unfroze military aid for the country."
"Mr. Trump faced bipartisan pressure from Congress when he released the aid," the Times noted. "But the new timing detail shows that he was also aware at the time that the whistleblower had accused him of wrongdoing in withholding the aid and in his broader campaign to pressure Ukraine's new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to conduct investigations that could benefit Mr. Trump's re-election chances."
Trump knew about the whistleblower complaint against him, his Attorney General and his Office of Management and Bud… https://t.co/J8yh8a5Uxg— Swing Left (@Swing Left) 1574814803.0
If the Times reporting is accurate, it means Trump was also aware of the whistleblower complaint when he told U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland in September that there was no "quid pro quo" with Ukraine.
According to House Budget Committee documents, Trump officially froze the aid to Ukraine on July 25, the same day as the president's phone call with Zelensky. Democrats have accused the president of unlawfully withholding the aid, which was appropriated by Congress.
"It was only until he felt that he was being exposed that he actually stepped up and actually released the funds," Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Mich.) told CNN Tuesday night.
The Washington Post reported late Tuesday that two officials at the White House Office of Management and Budget resigned in part over concerns about Trump's order to withhold the Ukraine funds.
Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), a member of the House Judiciary Committee, offered a simplified timeline of events on Twitter in response to the Times reporting, which was later confirmed by the Wall Street Journal.
"One more time for those playing along at home," tweeted Cicilline. "1) He tried to bribe Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 election. 2) He got caught. 3) He confessed. 4) We will hold him accountable."