Politics 3 takeaways from Laura Cooper’s and David Hale’s testimony

03:50  21 november  2019
03:50  21 november  2019 Source:   washingtonpost.com

Impeachment team releases transcript of defense official

  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.

Laura Cooper testified Ukraine asked about its military aid the same day Trump asked Ukraine' s president for a favor. he House Intelligence committee conducts its impeachment inquiry, with Ambassador David Hale , left, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper .

Laura Cooper , deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Russia and Ukraine, previously testified about the frantic effort within the administration to get the withheld Ukraine released. And top State Department official David Hale in early November told impeachment investigators about

On Wednesday, after diplomat Gordon Sondland testified there was a quid pro quo with Ukraine, two government officials, the Defense Department’s Laura Cooper and the State Department’s David Hale, took the stand to talk about how they learned U.S. military aid to Ukraine had been put on hold.

David Hale wearing a suit and tie: he House Intelligence committee conducts its impeachment inquiry, with Ambassador David Hale, left, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper. Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post) © Bill O'Leary/TWP he House Intelligence committee conducts its impeachment inquiry, with Ambassador David Hale, left, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper. Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)

Cooper provided new information about when Ukraine knew there were conditions on receiving its military assistance. Here are three takeaways from their testimonies. 

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 and David Hale are testifying at the second hearing on the fourth day of impeachment hearings. After hearing testimony from U. S . Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland, the House Intelligence Committee will hold a second hearing with two administration officials.

The key takeaways from Holmes and Hale ' s impeachment inquiry testimonies . Savannah Behrmann. The two transcripts were released prior to the deposition of nine officials slated to publicly testify this week, including Hale on Wednesday with Sondland and Defense official Laura Cooper .

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1. The July 25 date conspicuously surfaces again

Cooper is a Russia and Ukraine expert at the Defense Department who oversees the department’s long-term strategy on Russia. She testified she both viewed the military aid for Ukraine as critically mportant and that she had no idea why it was held up over the summer, despite Congress authorizing the money and the Defense Department having assured Ukraine had met the qualifications for receiving it in May.

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

  '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.

But she took a moment to pointedly rebuke the leaders of that department. Yovanovitch didn’t just accuse State Department leaders of failing to stand by her amid the smear campaign — which has been borne out in other testimony — she also said that they failed to maintain a robust Foreign Service.

For this late evening session two deep state operatives, Laura Cooper , Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary for Ukrainian and Eurasian affairs and David Hale , Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, continue the impeachment effort: Fox News Livestream – Fox Business Livestream – PBS

But then she added something else notable: That she has since learned the Ukrainians reached out on July 25, asking members of her staff what was going on with the military aid. That’s big for two reasons:

  • July 25 is the same day Trump talked with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky on the phone and asked for “a favor,” to investigate a debunked notion about the 2016 election and the Bidens. It doesn’t seem like a coincidence that the Ukrainians reach out to the Pentagon, to Cooper and her staff, to get more information about why they hadn’t received the aid that same day. This is just days after officials in the State Department learned the aid has been held up. Cooper said the Ukrainians “likely” knew about the aid being held up then, too.
  • It is the earliest date we’ve heard so far that Ukrainians may have known their military assistance had been withheld. Previously, U.S. diplomats testified Ukrainians became aware they weren’t getting their military aid in August, after a Politico article reported on it. But it changes the game if Ukrainians were concerned about their aid being withheld when their president was talking to Trump. If the Ukrainians knew Trump had the ability to give them $400 million in military help when Trump asked Zelensky “a favor, though," it weakens a Republican defense that there couldn’t have been a quid pro quo evident in that request.

2. Republicans don’t catch a break on the witnesses

Republicans can request witnesses to testify in the impeachment inquiry. Democrats can and did overrule many of their requests, such as on the whistleblower and Hunter Biden.) On Tuesday, two they had listed among their requests, former special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker and former White House Russia national security expert Tim Morrison, both said it was troubling if Trump had held up military aid to investigate his political opponent.

White House stresses 'hearsay' in witness testimony ahead of public impeachment hearings

  White House stresses 'hearsay' in witness testimony ahead of public impeachment hearings The White House is seeking to undercut the accounts of three witnesses who have testified in the Democrats' impeachment inquiry, attacking their claims about President Trump's contacts with Ukraine ahead of this week's public hearings.In an email sent Tuesday morning to GOP congressional offices, the White House claimed that the testimonies of top Defense official Laura Cooper as well as Catherine Croft and Christopher Anderson, two onetime assistants to former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, "were filled with hearsay.

(MORE: Schumer wants protections for Vindman, Cooper ahead of public testimony ). (MORE: 5 key takeaways from testimony by former Ukraine Amb. Sondland will testify Wednesday morning, followed by senior Defense Department and State Department officials Laura Cooper and David Hale .

The public testimony by Williams is refocusing attention on what the Pence knew and when about the events that sparked the House impeachment She also declined in her testimony to answer questions about the vice president’ s September call with Zelenskiy on the grounds that it remains

On Wednesday we heard from another person Republicans had on their list of requested witnesses: Hale, the No. 3 at the State Department and the top professional diplomat there. Under questioning from Democrats, he said something similar that was unhelpful to Trump’s case:

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.): Would you agree, though, that it would be very unusual to place a hold on military aid to leverage a foreign country to get them to investigate a political opponent?
Hale: Yes.
Schiff: And I take it you would agree that that would be completely inappropriate.
Hale: That would be consistent with the conduct of our foreign policy in general.
Schiff: And it’d be wrong, wouldn’t it?
Hale: It’s certainly not what I would do.

Later, Hale agreed something else Trump did was wrong: That former Ukraine ambassador Marie Yovanovitch was ousted under allegations driven by Trump personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani. Hale jumped at the chance to defend Yovanovitch: “I believe that she should have been able to stay at post and continue to do the outstanding work...”

House Intel announces additional witnesses for public impeachment hearings

  House Intel announces additional witnesses for public impeachment hearings House Intel announces additional witnesses for public impeachment hearingsChairman Adam Schiff announced that next Tuesday the panel will hear from Jennifer Williams, an aide to Vice President Mike Pence; Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, who serves as the director for European Affairs at the National Security Council; Ambassador Kurt Volker, the former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine; and Tim Morrison, a White House aide with the National Security Council focusing on Europe and Russia policy.

Sondland also confirmed testimony by another State Department staffer, David Holmes, who has said he overheard Trump ask But according to Holmes' closed-door testimony , Sondland said Trump cares about "only big stuff that matters to him, like this Biden investigation that Giuliani is pushing."

Laura Cooper , the top Department of Defense official dealing with Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia, amended her earlier testimony from October in a public hearing at the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday evening. Cooper told the committee that in reviewing her previous testimony with her

Rep. Denny Heck (D-Wash.) cut him off, by asking directly: [Would you agree] "that what happened to her was wrong?”

Hale: “Yes sir.”

Finally, Hale confirmed what Trump himself has acknowledged: Office of Management and Budget officials said Trump ordered the hold on the aid.

3. Republicans aren’t bowed by Sondland’s testimony

Sondland is a Trump donor and a Trump appointee who was doing Trump’s bidding in Ukraine. And he testified Wednesday that there were conditions for Ukraine’s president to get a meeting and a phone call with Trump: They had to announce investigations into Democrats. He also knocked down a number of Republicans’ defenses for the president.

But House Republicans have been remarkably unified in this whole impeachment inquiry, and they didn’t miss a beat following Sondland’s testimony.

They regrouped and asked questions of Cooper and Hale that underscored presidents sometimes do want to pause foreign aid to make sure it’s going to the right place. Or that neither Cooper nor Hale had evidence the aid was stopped to pressure Ukrainians, despite their high-level rankings in their respective agencies.

This unity is Trump’s best strength. It’s possible if/when the House of Representatives votes to impeach him, it will be an entirely Democratic vote. And Trump can continue to try to argue this impeachment inquiry is a partisan effort against him.

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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