The Chaotic Story of Trump’s Ukraine Aid Freeze

December 29, The New York Times broke what they called “An 84 Day Clash of Wills ‘’  An in depth article traced the people and events that occurred from the inception of Donald Trump’s idea that he would put a hold on necessary funds Congress had passed to help Ukraine withstand Russian tanks on their border.

The president was known to make impulsive decisions without the advice of his Security aides.  He refused to read the daily policy briefs that gave him the latest information on foreign and domestic affairs.  He also had a fixed idea that Ukraine was a corrupt state.  This was unsupported by current information that  newly elected President Zelensky was a reformer.

The Story Begins:  June 27 was more than a week after Donald Trump first suggested putting a hold on security aid to embattled Ukraine.   Mick Mulvaney, Acting Chief of Staff, was on Air Force One with Trump flying to Japan. Mulvaney sent an email to an aide in D.C. asking, “Did we ever find out about the money for Ukraine and whether we can hold it back?” The aide, Robert Blair, wrote back, “ Expect Congress to become unhinged “. He had written in a previous email that would happen if the White House tried to countermand spending passed by The House and Senate. The aid Congress had approved was $391 million for javelin missiles,  rocket propelled grenades,  sniper rifles, night vision goggles, medical aid and other equipment .

During July and August,  top lawyers at the OMB ,Office of Management and Budget, met with White House lawyers to see if Trump as Commander in Chief could be able to freeze the aid to Ukraine.  Mulvaney shared Trump’s demands across the administration while the OMB and Pentagon were kept in the dark.   Trump insisted about Ukraine, “They are all corrupt…. Terrible people.”

In late August,  Mulvaney was joined by Defense Secretary Mark Esper,  Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton. They  arranged a meeting in the Oval Office with Trump sitting behind the Resolute Desk.   One by one, each man presented his case for lifting the aid freeze.   They were powerful men in important positions and all agreed that this should not happen.  The discussion was long and heated.  However, Trump had decided and they were not successful in changing his mind.  He declared, “Ukraine is a corrupt country…. And we are pissing away our money.”

It is important to note that these three men had been subpoenaed by The House Intelligence Committee in their Impeachment Inquiry.   The president had told all his administration officials to refuse the subpoenas and they had agreed.  However, Ambassador Taylor,  Ambassador Yovonovich,  Colonel Vindaman  and  fourteen other witnesses   gave one hundred hours of sworn testimony and answered questions from members of The Intelligence Committee.

Trump orders freeze on Ukraine aid  be partially lifted on September 12. 

Then, on  September 25, he made his  famous call to President Zelensky asking  that he do us “a favor”.  The favor had two parts.  First, announce publicly that he would start an investigation of Joe Biden and his son, Hunter for unlawful activities in Ukraine.  Second, he would support the unproven conspiracy theory that Ukraine had meddled in the 2016 election.  In return, Zelensky would be invited to a meeting in the Oval office, a much desired boost to his prestige as a new president. Note:This meeting never happened and Zelensky never supported the conspiracy theory.

Later, during the Impeachment Inquiry,  Trump’s offer was described as Bribery, one of the two examples of  High Crimes and Misdemeanors named  in The Constitution.

Enter The Whistle Blower:  A C.I.A. official who had once worked in the White House learned of the phone call. He or she wrote a complaint that was declassified and given to The House Intelligence Committee.  For the record, The Whistle Blower Protection Act was passed by Congress in 1989. It protects whistle blowers who report activities that violate laws, rules and regulations in government as well as business and industry.

Epilogue:   On September 25. The New York Times ran a banner headline: Pelosi Will Open Formal Impeachment Inquiry, Accusing President of Betrayal of The Nation.”

……………………………………………………..Joyce S. Anderson

 

 

 

 

 

 

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1 thought on “The Chaotic Story of Trump’s Ukraine Aid Freeze

  1. Thanks Joyce. Not that any of this will reduce support from Trump’s base, but it’s further evidence
    of the disdain with which he holds ethical behavior. He pushes the ethical–and legal–envelope to the limit in order to get his way. Hopefully the Senate trial will, if nothing else, provide a stark
    picture of his corrupt nature.

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