Nov 10, 2019

Report: State Dept. found WH had no legal ground to block Ukraine aid

Trump before boarding Air Force One on Nov. 9, 2019. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

State Department lawyers found President Trump and the White House Office of Management and Budget had no legal ground to block the department sending military aid to Ukraine, Bloomberg reports.

What's happening: The State Department "quietly authorized releasing $141 million" of the approximately $400 million withheld by the White House several days before Sept. 11 — the date Trump says he released the funds, per Bloomberg.

  • The White House hold on funds "provoked consternation, if not panic, at the State and Defense Departments," Bloomberg reports — "because the law required them to spend the money by the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30 or lose it."

The other side: “At no point was this pause inappropriate, let alone illegal,” OMB spokeswoman Rachel Semmel told Bloomberg in an email Saturday.

Why it matters: House impeachment committee members and several witnesses have accused Trump of withholding military aid to Ukraine to pressure its government to announce investigations into the origins of the Russia probe and former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.

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Report: WH review finds Mulvaney sought to justify blocking Ukraine aid

Mick Mulvaney. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

A confidential internal review found White House acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney asked budget office officials for an "after-the-fact justification" for withholding aid to Ukraine, the Washington Post first reported Sunday.

Why it matters: The issue of blocking almost $400 million in military aid to Ukraine is central to the impeachment inquiry, as House investigators examine allegations that President Trump ordered the move to press for Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son. Trump denies any wrongdoing.

Go deeperArrowNov 25, 2019

NYT: Trump was briefed on whistleblower complaint prior to releasing Ukraine aid

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

In late August, White House lawyers briefed President Trump on the now-infamous whistleblower complaint about his dealings with Ukraine, the New York Times reports, citing "two people familiar with the matter."

Why it matters: The report suggests Trump knew officials had raised alarms about his July 25 phone call with Ukraine's president two weeks prior to his decision to unfreeze military aid, which Democrats allege he was using as leverage to pressure Ukraine to announce investigations into the Bidens and the 2016 election.

Go deeperArrowNov 27, 2019

Why the missing testimony from the impeachment inquiry matters

As impeachment moves into its next phase, House Democrats lack testimony from major players in the Trump administration about allegations that the president withheld military aid and a coveted White House meeting to pressure Ukraine into investigating his domestic political rivals.

Go deeperArrowDec 5, 2019