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Politics Ukraine may have been aware of aid holdup during Trump's July 25 call with Zelensky, Cooper testifies

01:50  21 november  2019
01:50  21 november  2019 Source:   foxnews.com

Trump ordered quid pro quo freeze on U.S. aid to Ukraine despite legal concerns from Pentagon, State Department: military official

  Trump ordered quid pro quo freeze on U.S. aid to Ukraine despite legal concerns from Pentagon, State Department: military official President Trump ordered a freeze on nearly $400 million in U.S. military aid to Ukraine and said he’d only release it if the country agreed to investigate his political rivals — even though his own Defense and State Departments advised against it and raised concern about the legality of the shakedown, according to a senior Pentagon official. President Trump ordered a freeze on nearly $400 million in U.S. military aid to Ukraine and said he’d only release it if the country agreed to investigate his political rivals — even though his own Defense and State Departments advised against it and raised concern about the legality of the shakedown, according to a senior Pentagon official.

House Ukraine expert, testified that President Trump ’ s call with the Ukrainian president was that President Trump ’ s request to Ukraine ’s president to investigate Democratic rivals had been Mr. Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine that he reported his concerns to White House

After the July 25 th call , I provided an update in the Vice President’ s daily briefing book indicating that President Trump had a call that day with President Zelensky . A hard copy of the memorandum transcribing the call was also included in the book. I do not know whether the Vice President

Laura Cooper, a deputy assistant secretary of defense, testified Wednesday afternoon that her staff received indications Ukraine may have been aware that U.S. aid was being withheld as early as August or even July 25 -- the date of President Trump's momentous phone call with Ukraine's leader, in which the president mentioned an investigation into Joe and Hunter Biden's dealings there.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper testifies before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019, during a public impeachment hearing of President Donald Trump's efforts to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)© Associated Press Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper testifies before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019, during a public impeachment hearing of President Donald Trump's efforts to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

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." The second, also on July 25, said that "the Hill knows about the FMF [Foreign Military Financing ] situation to an extent, and so does the Ukrainian embassy."

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  'Signs of concern': What Laura Cooper told impeachment investigators 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. © J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo Laura Cooper, deputy assistant secretary of defense.

1. Trump ’ s July 25 call with Ukraine ’s president was appropriate. Who: Rep. Context: On Sept. 20, Trump tweeted that his call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was “pitch perfect.” What he said: “The Ukrainians didn’t know aid had been held up at the time of the phone call ,” Jordan

Cooper testified that she believed that Ukraine might have been aware of the aid hold on Aug. Trump had been planning to travel to Poland. Bolton, Holmes testified , “indicated the hold on security assistance would not be lifted prior to the Warsaw meeting, where it would hang on whether President

Ukrainian embassy staff, Cooper said, directly asked "what is going on" with their military aid.

Cooper's remarks updated her earlier testimony in a closed-door deposition, and appeared to undercut Republican remarks that Ukraine was unaware of any hold on its aid at the time of Trump's July 25 conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. During that call, Trump suggested that Ukraine investigate Joe Biden's dealings in Ukraine, including the former vice president's successful push to have Ukraine's top prosecutor fired by threatening to withhold $1 billion in U.S. aid while the prosecutor was investigating Burisma Holdings, where Hunter Biden served on the board.

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Alexander Vindman and Jennifer Williams, were on the July 25 call between Trump and Zelensky at the center of the Trump impeachment inquiry. WASHINGTON – A key National Security Council expert testified Tuesday he considered President Donald Trump ' s request that Ukraine investigate

Morrison was on the July 25 call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr "At no time was I aware of , or knowingly took part in, any effort to urge Ukraine to investigate former Morrison recalled how he feared the disclosure of Mr. Trump ' s July 25 phone call with Zelensky


Cooper also said 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 the Bidens.

"In July, I became aware of a hold being placed on the obligation of State Department's Foreign Military Financing and DoD's USAI funds," Cooper said. "In a series of interagency meetings, I heard that the president had directed the Office of Management and Budget to hold the funds because of his concerns about corruption in Ukraine. Let me say at the outset that I have never discussed this or any other matter with the president and never heard directly from him about this matter."

Cooper and top State Department official David Hale were testifying under subpoena Wednesday evening in Democrats' impeachment inquiry, after President Trump claimed vindication from European Union ambassador Gordon Sondland's blockbuster remarks earlier in the day.

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to President Trump ’ s July 25 telephone call with Volodymyr Zelensky , the president of Ukraine . Alexander S. Vindman, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, also testified that when On Tuesday, Ms. Williams is scheduled to testify in public, becoming the latest in a series of

The call was positive and President Trump expressed his desire to work with President Zelensky and extended an invitation to visit the White House. May 2019: Inauguration Delegation Goes to Ukraine . In May , I attended the inauguration of President Zelensky as part of the Presidential delegation led by

While Sondland tied top Trump administration officials to a “potential quid pro quo” involving U.S. military aid to Ukraine and investigations desired by the president, he acknowledged under cross-examination from Republicans that he never heard that from Trump, saying he was making presumptions and the president expressly rejected any such arrangement. Democrats, though, argued that Sondland nevertheless described a quid pro quo arrangement in his testimony, suggesting Trump must have been involved.

Heading into Wednesday's testimony, Hale and Cooper were expected to offer additional details about the White House's anticorruption push in Ukraine, and whether the U.S. may have held up military aid to Ukraine in order to secure a probe into Joe and Hunter Biden.

Cooper testified last month that the Trump administration had pushed Ukraine to issue a public statement disavowing any efforts to influence U.S. elections -- but she stopped short of saying that officials wanted to include a reference to Joe and Hunter Biden's business dealings in the country.

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Cooper said that on Aug. 20, former U.S. envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker met with her, and the idea of mentioning the Bidens apparently didn't come up.

"In that meeting, he did mention something to me that, you know, was the first about, somehow, an effort that he was engaged in to see if there was a statement that the government of Ukraine would make that would somehow disavow any interference in U.S. elections and would commit to the prosecution of any individuals involved in election interference," Cooper said. "And, that was about as specific as it got."

Additionally, Cooper has testified that Pentagon officials began receiving "phone calls from industry" -- apparently referring to private companies that supply weapons and military hardware to the government -- after President Trump initiated a hold on military aid to Ukraine earlier this year.

Separately, Cooper testified about Defense Department concerns that Trump's temporary withholding of military aid to Ukraine may have been illegal. The legalities likely regarded the issue of "impoundment" – the requirement that the president either had to spend the money or "impound" it.  The White House was coming up against an impoundment deadline when it released the funds for Ukraine.

DOD OFFICIAL SAYS PRIVATE INDUSTRY PRESSURED PENTAGON TO RESUME AID TO UKRAINE

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Moreover, Cooper said, Defense Department officials were concerned that Trump's decision would weaken a "strategic partner."

Meanwhile, Hale -- the State Department’s No. 3 official -- testified in a Nov. 6 closed-door deposition that no one in the Trump administration or any "government channel" ever mentioned Joe or Hunter Biden as a reason for withholding aid from Ukraine, according to a transcript of his remarks.

Democrats have argued that the White House improperly pressured Ukraine to look into the Bidens and Burisma, the natural gas company where Hunter Biden held a lucrative role despite limited expertise while his father oversaw Ukraine policy as vice president.

George Kent, a State Department official who has also testified in the impeachment investigation, said he flagged Hunter Biden's apparent conflict of interest to the Obama administration at the time. Reports emerged Wednesday afternoon that Ukrainian prosecutors had drawn up an indictment against Burisma's founder.

However, Hale said, he saw the Bidens referenced only in media reports -- as well as in a "speculative" email from former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who testified last week.

Yovanovitch "mentioned that Mayor [Rudy] Giuliani might have been motivated to sully Vice President Biden's reputation by reminding the world of the issue regarding his son's activities in Ukraine," Hale testified, referring to President Trump's personal attorney.

Hale and Cooper's testimony came shortly after Sondland tied top officials to the “potential quid pro quo” involving U.S. military aid to Ukraine and investigations desired by Trump – yet said he never heard that link from the president himself.

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One of the key witnesses in the Democrat-led impeachment inquiry against Trump, Sondland claimed he kept Secretary of State Mike Pompeo aware of what was going on and said he specifically told Vice President Pence he "had concerns" the military aid to Ukraine "had become tied" to investigations -- though a Pence aide denied it. And he repeatedly lambasted Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s leading role in the administration’s Ukraine dealings.

"Everyone was in the loop," Sondland testified. "It was no secret."

STATE DEPT OFFICIAL SAYS BIDEN, BURISMA NOT MENTIONED REGARDING AID HOLDUP

He testified to a clear "quid pro quo" linking a White House meeting with Ukraine's president to the investigation request, even as he couched his language regarding the aid.

In comments touted by Trump later in the day, Sondland clarified: “I never heard from President Trump that aid was conditioned on an announcement" of investigations. He said he never personally heard Trump discuss preconditions. And at one point, he confirmed Trump told him, "I want nothing."

Throughout, Republicans sought to emphasize their view that the impeachment proceedings were fundamentally unfair. House Intelligence Committee ranking member Devin Nunes, R-Calif., kicked off the questioning in the afternoon hearing by focusing on the potential witnesses who had been blocked from appearing by Democrats.

"I’d like to take a moment to discuss a few of the people whose testimony has been deemed unacceptable for the American people to hear," Nunes said. "The whistleblower is the key figure who started this entire impeachment charade by submitting a complaint against President Trump that relied on second-hand and third-hand information and media reports."

Then, Nunes pointed to Alexandra Chalupa, whom he called a "former operative for the Democratic National Committee who worked with officials of the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington D.C. in order to smear the Trump campaign." Chalupa, Nunes noted, "met directly about these matters with then-Ukrainian Ambassador Valeriy Chaly, who himself wrote an article criticizing Trump during the 2016 campaign. Chalupa’s activities were one of several indicators of Ukrainian election meddling in 2016, all of which were aimed against the Trump campaign."

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He continued: "Hunter Biden is another witness who the Democrats are sparing from cross-examination. His securing of an extremely well-paying job on the board of a corrupt Ukrainian company, Burisma, highlights the precise corruption problem in Ukraine that concerned not only President Trump, but all the witnesses we’ve interviewed. ... The Democrats have dismissed questions about Biden’s role at Burisma as conspiracy theories, yet they’re trying to impeach President Trump for having expressed concerns about the company."

The latest Ukraine revelation spotlights a major gap in Trump’s defense .
If the withholding of the military aid was all on the up-and-up, why did nobody seem to know its justification?The other alleged quid pro quo, though — the one involving military aid — is more nebulous. It’s not clear exactly when Ukraine even became aware the aid was being withheld, and it wasn’t as frequently tied to the investigations in talks with Ukrainians.

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