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Unredacted Emails Expose Pentagon Legal Concerns Over Ukraine Aid Freeze

Sputnik News

03:08 03.01.2020

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - Unredacted copies of email exchanges with the White House shine a light on Defence Department legal concerns over President Donald Trump's decision to withhold military aid to Ukraine, Justice Security reported.

Justice Security, a legal news and analysis forum, reviewed unredacted copies of the emails that were released in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit, many of which occurred between defence officials and the White House's Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

"OMB continues to ignore our repeated explanation regarding how the process works. We cannot release funds for obligation until they can obligate, so the process has stopped for those cases whose lines are ready to execute", acting Pentagon comptroller Elaine McCusker said in an email to defence officials according to excerpts of the documents posted on Thursday.

Defence officials were concerned that US President Donald Trump's hold on the security aid to Ukraine would violate the Impoundment Control Act, which requires the White House to spend money that was appropriated by Congress, the report said.

The report said that the emails show that Congress was given no notification that funding was being held and no explanation was ever given for why the hold was put in place by the executive branch.

The documents show that the Pentagon had warned OMB that a continued hold on security assistance would increase the department's ability to deliver the funding on time.

House Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Thursday said the new revelations strike a blow to Republican resistance to include more evidence in the forthcoming impeachment trial in the Senate.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi slammed the revelations as "total obstruction of Congress".

​In September, the Democrat-led House of Representatives launched an impeachment inquiry into Trump over his 25 July telephone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The Republican president allegedly attempted to solicit foreign contribution to his presidential campaign for the 2020 vote by putting on hold the military aid for Ukraine unless Kiev agreed to probe his political rival Joe Biden and son Hunter for corruption-related misdeeds. The Bidens have denied any wrongdoing.

The impeachment proceedings will continue in the Senate this year after the House charged Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

In a statement later on Thursday, US House Intelligence Committee chairman, congressman Adam Schiff, said the Senate cannot hold a fair trial without including documents it knows the White House has that contradict defence of Trump's conduct.

The congressman also said the documents disclosed represent only a small subset of those his committee issued subpoenas for.

© Sputnik

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