Sep 24, 2019 - Politics & Policy

Report: Trump ordered Ukraine aid freeze days before call to its leader

 President Donald Trump speaks to the media in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC

Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump directed his acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to withhold nearly $400 million in military aid for Ukraine days before he phoned the country's president and allegedly urged him to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden's son, the Washington Post and New York Times report.

Details: The White House told Axios that the reports, published late Monday, are "completely false." WashPost reported that officials in the administration's Office of Management and Budget notified the Pentagon and State Department about the request at an interagency meeting in July.

  • The departments were reportedly told that the Trump administration was examining whether the spending was necessary.

What they're saying: "The media pushed the Russia lie for almost 3 years with no evidence, and now they are doing it all over again," White House spokesperson Hogan Gidley told Axios' Alayna Treene.

"These allegations are completely false, but because the media wants this story to be true so badly, they’ll once again manufacture a frenzy and drive ignorant, fake stories to attack this President."
— Hogan Gidley

Context: Trump earlier flatly denied that he had withheld aid in order to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate allegations of conflicts of interest related to the work of the former vice president's son Hunter Biden with a Ukrainian energy company.

  • The country's prosecutor has found no evidence to support the claims of wrongdoing by Biden or his son.
  • The president defended his right to discuss Biden during his July phone call with Zelensky on Monday. "If you don't talk about corruption, why would you give money to a country that you think is corrupt?" he said.

The state of play: Several Democratic lawmakers and party allies — including Biden — have called on Trump to release a transcript of the call and have demanded that a whistleblower report flagging the call as problematic be turned over to Congress.

The big picture: Several House Democrats spoke out in support of bringing impeachment proceedings against Trump if the White House tries to block Democratic investigations into the allegations, or if they are proven to be true.

  • 7 freshman House Democrats in swing districts who have previously been hesitant toward impeachment wrote in a Monday Washington Post op-ed that they "believe these actions represent an impeachable offense" if proven true.

Go deeper: Key House committees threaten subpoenas over Trump-Ukraine allegations

Go deeper