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Politics 'Signs of concern': What Laura Cooper told impeachment investigators

01:10  12 november  2019
01:10  12 november  2019 Source:   politico.com

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Laura Cooper , the deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia and Ukraine, told impeachment investigators that President Donald Trump’s abrupt hold on military aid to Ukraine sent all corners of the Trump administration into a frenzy to get it released — and to understand what motivated Trump’s

Ms. Cooper appeared before impeachment investigators on Wednesday during a closed-door That same day, Representative Adam Schiff, Democrat of California and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, signed a subpoena stating that Ms. Cooper was legally required to appear.

Laura Cooper, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia and Ukraine, told impeachment investigators in a deposition made public Monday that President Donald Trump’s abrupt hold on military aid to Ukraine sent all corners of the Trump administration into a frenzy to get it released — and to understand what motivated Trump’s decision.

a man wearing a military uniform: Laura Cooper, deputy assistant secretary of defense.© J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo Laura Cooper, deputy assistant secretary of defense.

Cooper’s testimony — halted for hours when Republicans stormed the Intelligence Committee’s hearing room in protest — provided a window into the urgent questions that high-level officials raced to answer about Trump’s move, including whether it violated any laws about distributing congressionally-mandated appropriations.

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House impeachment investigators on Monday released a transcript of testimony that Laura Cooper , the top Pentagon official overseeing U.S. policy Cooper 's testimony last month was delayed for over five hours after a group of Republicans stormed the secure room where the deposition was taking place.

Congressional investigators want to ask Laura Cooper , who oversees Ukraine policy at the Pentagon, about the withholding of military aid to Ukraine. WASHINGTON – About three dozen Republican lawmakers protested how House Democrats are conducting the impeachment inquiry of President

POLITICO scoured Cooper’s deposition for the following new or illuminating nuggets. Check back for updates throughout the day.

Ukrainians may have been aware of hold on aid earlier than previously known

Trump abruptly withheld nearly $400 million in military aid sometime in early July, and word spread rapidly through the administration in subsequent weeks. Though several witnesses told lawmakers that Ukrainians likely didn’t discover the hold until late August — after a POLITICO report revealed it publicly for the first time — Cooper said she began to register concerns days or weeks earlier.

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  Impeachment team releases transcript of defense official WASHINGTON (AP) — House investigators are releasing another transcript in the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump. The transcript being made public Monday is from the testimony of Laura Cooper, a deputy assistant secretary of defense, in a closed-door interview. House Democrats are moving forward with the first live, public hearings of the impeachment inquiry this week. The House is investigating whether Trump violated his oath of office by pushing Ukraine's president to investigate Democrats, including rival Joe Biden, while the administration was withholding military funds for the East European ally.

House investigators are releasing another transcript in the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump.The transcript being made public Monday is from the testimony of Laura Cooper , a deputy assistant secretary of defense

House impeachment investigators have released the transcript of the closed-door deposition of Laura Cooper , deputy assistant secretary of defense. You can read the original PDF document, or view the full transcript below.

Some, she said, arose from the defense industry that was awaiting the distribution of funds — including at least one call Cooper received from the Chamber of Commerce.

“So before the kind of press broke on it, we were hearing that there were signs of concern,” Cooper said.

But it was a conversation Cooper had with Kurt Volker, a top Trump envoy to Ukraine at the time, that led her to believe Ukrainians also knew about the hold on aid before it was revealed publicly.

“I knew from my Kurt Volker conversation and also from sort of the alarm bells that were coming from Ambassador Taylor and his team that there were Ukrainians who knew about this,” Cooper said.

Cooper said that Volker relayed to her a discussion with a top aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky about the Ukrainian leader making a statement alluding to “election interference” that Ukraine had committed in the past — a nod to Trump’s demand for such an investigation.

Pentagon official testifies Trump directed freeze on aid to Ukraine

  Pentagon official testifies Trump directed freeze on aid to Ukraine Asked if the president was authorized to order that type of hold, Laura Cooper said there were concerns that he wasn't.Laura Cooper, the top Pentagon official overseeing U.S. policy regarding Ukraine, told House impeachment investigators last month that President Donald Trump directed the relevant agencies to freeze aid to Ukraine over the summer, according to a transcript of her testimony released Monday.

Laura Cooper appeared behind closed doors before the impeachment committees on October 23. Cooper is deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia whose responsibilities include "current policy towards Russia, as well as long-term strategy on Russia for the Department of

Cooper also told investigators that she could make a "very strong inference" that Ukraine was aware in August that the Trump administration was holding up the In a statement, top House Democrats leading the impeachment inquiry noted that Cooper 's testimony indicated that Trump's Ukraine policy

Budget official told Cooper that Trump was concerned about ‘corruption’

Cooper told investigators that Michael Duffey, a senior official at the Office of Management and Budget who handles national security issues, said during a July 26 meeting that the president ordered the hold on aid to Ukraine because of his “concerns about corruption.”

But Cooper also said an inter-agency review for corruption concerns had already been completed. During the review process, Pentagon officials “affirmed that we believed sufficient progress has been made,” Cooper added.

“It was unanimous with the exception of the statements by OMB representatives, and those statements were relaying higher level guidance,” Cooper said, adding that she never found out what Duffey meant by Trump’s “concerns about corruption.”

Duffey was subpoenaed by impeachment investigators but, like other OMB officials, he refused to appear for testimony, depriving Democrats of potentially explosive information about the hold on military aid to Ukraine.

Legal questions emerged about holding aid

Democrats release three new transcripts as part of impeachment inquiry

  Democrats release three new transcripts as part of impeachment inquiry House Democrats released three new transcripts Monday as they charge closer towards the open hearing phase of their impeachment inquiry later this week.The release included the transcript of Laura Cooper, top Defense official who oversees Ukraine, who testified about the Trump administration's decision to withhold nearly $400 million in aid to Ukraine, which Democrats are examining as part of the House investigation into whether President Trump pressed Ukraine to help his own reelection bid in 2020. And Democrats also released the transcripts from joint depositions with Catherine Croft and Christopher Anderson, two former assistants to former U.S.

Cooper described an acute debate inside the Trump administration about whether Trump’s hold on aid would even pass legal muster.

“[S]enior leaders were expressing that they didn't see how this was legally available,” she said, noting that any abrupt decision to withhold military aid would likely require notification to Congress.

Cooper said she raised the matter at a meeting of some of the most senior members of the Trump administration on July 31 and indicated there were only two “legally available” ways for Trump to withhold aid. One was a presidential notice to Congress declaring a “rescission” of the funds. The other was a Pentagon decision to “reprogram” the funds, which also required congressional notification.

Cooper said she notified budget officials at that meeting that the Pentagon may have to start issuing the aid on Aug. 6 in order to meet statutory deadlines to distribute the funding. There was rising concern that further delays could jeopardize the funding altogether when the Sept. 30 end of the fiscal year arrived.

“And just practically speaking, how long could we delay obligation and still be able to obligate the entirety of the funding prior to September 30th?” she said.

Cooper was asked about the whistleblower

Steve Castor, one of the GOP lawyers working on the impeachment inquiry, grilled Cooper about her knowledge of the whistleblower complaint that set the inquiry into motion.

Cooper said she was unaware of the complaint before its existence was made public — but a series of follow-up questions about the whistleblower were redacted.

Democrats had complained during the depositions that Republicans were asking questions that could identify the whistleblower or the individuals he or she spoke with to gather the information contained within the complaint.

Democrats' highlights of Laura Cooper’s testimony | Full transcript

Ukraine may have been aware of aid holdup during Trump's July 25 call with Zelensky, Cooper testifies .
Laura Cooper, a deputy assistant secretary of defense, testified Wednesday afternoon that she was told there was a hold on U.S. military aid to Ukraine this summer -- but was under the impression the aid was restricted due to the Trump administration's concerns over corruption in Ukraine, not necessarily because of any effort by the White House to obtain an investigation of Joe and Hunter Biden's actions there.Cooper noted that her staff had made her aware of "two unclassified emails" from the State Department, both from July 25. One email indicated that the Ukrainian embassy and House Foreign Affairs Committee "are asking about security assistance.

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