Nov 12, 2019

Read: Defense official raises Ukraine aid concerns at impeachment inquiry

Laura Cooper, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia, arrives on Capitol Hill before attending a closed-door deposition, on October 30, 2019 in Washington, DC.

Laura Cooper, deputy assistant secretary of defense, arrives on Capitol Hill before attending a closed-door deposition in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 30. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Laura Cooper, deputy assistant secretary of defense, told House impeachment investigators President Trump directed the freezing of military aid for Ukraine via the Office of Management and Budget over corruption concerns, a testimony transcript released Monday shows.

Why it matters: The issue of whether Trump withheld aid in an illegal abuse of power is central to the inquiry. Cooper indicated that officials were concerned about the legalities of withholding aid, testifying that at a meeting held the day after Trump's July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that "deputies began to raise concerns about how this could be done in a legal fashion."

What she's saying: Cooper testified last month that she knew from a conversation with Kurt Volker, the former U.S. envoy to Ukraine, and from "alarm bells that were coming from Ambassador [Bill] Taylor and his team that there were Ukrainians who knew" about the aid freeze in August.

  • "The context for the discussion that I had with Ambassador Volker related specifically to the path that he was pursuing to lift the hold would be to get them to make this statement, but the only reason they would do that is because there was, you know, something valuable," she said.
  • Cooper said she attended a July 23 meeting during which President Trump's "concerns about Ukraine and Ukraine security assistance," came up, relayed by acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.

What they're saying: Trump and has Republican allies deny any abuse of power took place over the aid issue or in his request for Zelensky to look into allegations that former Vice President Joe Biden fired a Ukrainian prosecutor investigating his son, Hunter Biden.

The big picture: Cooper's testimony last month was delayed by a group of House Republicans, who attempted to force entry into her closed-door hearing protesting a lack of transparency in the impeachment process.

Read the full transcript:

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