Trump Froze $391 Million In Military Aid To Ukraine Before Calling President To Investigate Joe Biden
President Donald Trump personally directed members of his staff to suspend more than $391 million in military assistance to Ukraine just days before he pressured the country’s leader to probe former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, a pair of top White House officials said Monday.
According to several reports, Trump gave the order to acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, who is also the budget director. Mulvaney then informed the State and Defense Departments of the president’s directive and the two agencies said White House officials were simply evaluating how necessary the planned aid to Ukraine was.
One senior administration official said Trump spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky over the phone in July about “corruption” in the country. Trump had been overseeing foreign aid plans for several countries when he decided to contact Ukraine.
Trump confessed on Tuesday to having postponed the aid to Ukraine before a call with Zelensky in which he urged the nation’s leader to investigate Biden, the Democratic frontrunner in the 2020 presidential election. Trump blamed European countries for the delay in financial assistance, saying they were not not paying their fair share to support Ukraine’s military against a Russian incursion.
Trump admits holding up Ukraine money at UN: “As far as withholding funds, those funds were paid. They were fully paid. But my complaint has always been, and I’d withhold again and I’ll continue to withhold until such time as Europe and other nations contribute to Ukraine.”
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) September 24, 2019
NEW: Pushed on why he halted aid to Ukraine ahead of controversial phone call with Ukrainian leader, Pres. Trump claims, “I want other countries to put up money…Germany, France, other countries should put up money.” https://t.co/0u5f58Vmet pic.twitter.com/79umaV13TU
— ABC News (@ABC) September 24, 2019
Trump — along with his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani — reportedly pressed Ukraine to probe Biden and his son Hunter Biden over corruption allegations. During his tenure as vice president in early 2016, Joe Biden demanded the firing of a top prosecutor in the Ukraine who was investigating Burisma Holdings, a Cyprus-based oil and gas company that counts Hunter among its board of directors. The former vice president had reportedly threatened to pull $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees to the Ukraine if the country did not comply with the order.
The development on this controversy comes as the list of Democratic lawmakers supporting impeachment proceedings against Trump continues to grow to more than 140 officials. Several Democrats had said the president’s call to Ukraine’s leader to investigate Biden could merit impeachment even before news outlets began reporting that Trump personally ordered the delay in aid to the country.
The aid the U.S. had pledged to Ukraine reportedly came from two separate government agencies — $141 million from the State Department and $250 million from the Defense Department. Lawmakers had approved the military assistance packages in two portions: one in April and another in June.