Nov 19, 2019

LA Times: $35 million in Pentagon aid remains unreleased to Ukraine

Photo: Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

More than $35 million in congressionally approved aid to Ukraine has not been dispersed, according to a new report by the Los Angeles Times. The outstanding sum is part of the $400 million assistance package that President Trump delayed earlier this year, igniting the ongoing impeachment inquiry.

Where it stands: Trump released part of the aid on Sept. 11 after a whistleblower report surfaced alleging a quid pro quo. Lawmakers granted the Pentagon a year-long extension to save $250 million worth of the aid before it expired at the start of the new fiscal year on Oct. 1.

  • The Pentagon confirmed that the remaining millions — "earmarked for grenade launchers, secure communications and naval combat craft," per the Times — have not yet reached Ukraine, but declined to say why.
  • The remainder of the $400 million was mostly the State Department's responsibility.
  • Pentagon spokesperson Lt. Col. Carla Gleason said the funds will be distributed “over the next several weeks.”

Between the lines: Throughout the impeachment inquiry, "The president’s defenders have downplayed the effects of the delay in aid by noting that the funds were ultimately released without Ukraine committing to the investigations Trump wanted," the Times writes.

  • On Monday, Senate Democrats who sit on defense committees underscored the significance of the aid to Ukraine in a letter to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper.

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House panel accuses OMB of "pattern of abuse" with Ukraine aid freeze

House Budget Chair John Yarmuth. Photo: Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call

House Democrats accused the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on Tuesday of engaging in a "pattern of abuse" by unlawfully freezing nearly $400 million in Ukraine aid, an allegation now at the heart of the impeachment inquiry, Politico reports.

Driving the news: A report released by the House Budget and Appropriations committees outlines a timeline of the aid being withheld, with the first official OMB action to halt the aid coming on the evening of July 25 — hours after President Trump's now-infamous phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Go deeperArrowNov 26, 2019

Trump administration finally releases $105M in Lebanon military aid

Lebanese army soldiers with the 6th Brigade on the Syrian-Lebanese border in 2017. Photo: Patrick Baz/AFP via Getty Images

A senior Trump administration official confirmed Monday that $105 million in military aid to Lebanon was released after it was delayed for months without explanation.

The big picture: The administration has not disclosed the reason why the congressionally approved aid, which had "overwhelming support from the Pentagon, State Department and National Security Council," was held up since September, per AP.

Go deeperArrowDec 3, 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