Trump's decision to cut off Ukraine aid is something 'you would expect to read about in a dictatorship': Ex-Obama official
Samantha Vinograd -- CNN screen capture

On Monday's edition of CNN's "The Situation Room," former Obama administration official and national security analyst Samantha Vinograd excoriated President Donald Trump for his decision — further laid out in newly released House transcripts — to suspend military aid to Ukraine.

"This process that is described and echoed in other depositions is a process that you would expect to read about in a dictatorship, where a leader rules by fiat and his national security team scrambles to find a legal justification and to sell a bill of goods to legislators and the American people about why the president has made a certain decision," said Vinograd.

"I was in NSC meetings for four years. Never have I ever heard a room of deputies, deputy cabinet officials, struggling to find a legal justification after the president decides to freeze assistance," continued Vinograd. "As Deputy Assistant Secretary Cooper notes, there's a process if you're going put a hold on security assistance. For example, if Ukraine had failed to meet anti-corruption benchmarks, there's an entire process that the Department of Defense would have gone through, they would have notified Congress. This was the opposite of that. And what we saw is the national security team having to spend their time finding a legal justification for the president using foreign assistance as an extortion slush fund, rather than doing their actual jobs, which is using this foreign assistance and allocating it to deterred Russia, in Ukraine's case."

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