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Ukrainian President Zelensky and President Trump during a September meeting in New York. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Office of Management and Budget is pushing back on suggestions that an email requesting the Pentagon withhold military aid to Ukraine 91 minutes after President Trump's phone call with Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky was anything other than procedural.

Why it matters: Allegations that Trump froze nearly $400 million of congressionally approved military aid in order to pressure Ukraine to investigate a potential 2020 rival are central to the impeachment case against the president. But an OMB spokeswoman said, "It’s reckless to tie the hold of funds to the phone call. As has been established and publicly reported, the hold was announced in an interagency meeting on July 18." 

Driving the news: Emails released to the Center for Public Integrity show the OMB ordered the Pentagon to withhold military aid to Ukraine 91 minutes after President Trump's phone call with Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky, show.

  • The 146 pages of heavily redacted emails between the OMB and the Pentagon obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request and court order also show Trump asked about withholding aid to Ukraine the month before his July 25 call with Zelensky.
"Based on guidance I have received and in light of the Administration's plan to review assistance to Ukraine, including the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, please hold off on any additional DoD obligations of these funds, pending direction from that process. ... Given the sensitive nature of the request, I appreciate your keeping that information closely held to those who need to know to execute the direction."
— Excerpt of a July 25 email from OMB official Mike Duffey to OMB and Pentagon officials, obtained by the Center for Public Integrity
  • Duffey is one of four witnesses with direct knowledge of the Ukraine aid freeze who Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) wants to testify at Trump's impeachment trial.

What they're saying: Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) tweeted that the release of the documents is important because it shows, "1. Ukraine aid was held just hours after the Trump/Zelensky 'do us a favor' call; 2. Internal notes show Trump’s direct involvement; 3. Staff knew it was wrong, kept it secret."

  • But the OMB spokeswoman said, "To pull a line out of one email and fail to address the context is misleading and inaccurate."
  • The president has yet to comment on the release of the emails, but he and his Republican allies maintain he did nothing wrong regarding Ukraine.

Read the documents.

Go deeper:

Editor's note: This article has been updated to include comment from the OMB and to clarify that the freezing of aid was discussed before the July 25 phone call.

Go deeper

19 mins ago - World

Reports: CIA director's team member reported Havana Syndrome symptoms

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director Bill Burns during a House Intelligence Committee hearing in April on Capitol Hill. Photo: Al Drago-Pool/Getty Images

A member of CIA director Bill Burns' team who traveled with him to India this month was treated for "symptoms consistent with Havana syndrome," CNN first reported Monday.

Why it matters: Current and former officials told the New York Times the incident signals a "possible escalation" in the mysterious neurological symptoms affecting as many as 200 Americans who've worked in overseas posts since 2016.

Updated 1 hour ago - World

Trudeau's government projected to win Canada election

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Photo: Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberal government has been reelected in the national election, the CBC and CTV News projected on Monday night.

By the numbers: The Liberal Party needed to win 170 seats in the 338-seat House of Commons to form a majority government. Preliminary figures show the party ahead with 156 seats just before 1a.m. ET, with over 85% of polling stations reporting.

Pelosi's back-to-school math problem

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) may need votes from an unlikely source — the Republican Party — if she hopes to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill by next Monday, as she's promised Democratic centrists.

Why it matters: With at least 20 progressives threatening to vote against the $1.2 trillion bipartisan bill, centrist members are banking on more than 10 Republicans to approve the bill.