Pentagon official reveals confusion after Trump blocked Ukraine aid, Latest World News - The New Paper

Pentagon official reveals confusion after Trump blocked Ukraine aid

This article is more than 12 months old

Testimony by officials reveals confusion after Trump blocked funds for Ukraine

WASHINGTON: A senior Pentagon official detailed confusion and concern in the US national security apparatus after the White House blocked aid to Ukraine without explanation, according to testimony released on Monday by the congressional impeachment panel into US President Donald Trump.

Testimony by Ms Laura Cooper, deputy assistant secretary of defence, was the latest to be made public and showed the internal machinations of the administration, as Mr Trump insisted that nearly US$400 million (S$545 million) in aid slated for Ukraine be withheld until its president publicly launched an investigation into one of Mr Trump's top political rivals.

Also on Monday, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney withdrew a motion to join a lawsuit seeking to have a judge settle whether he can be compelled by Congress to testify in the inquiry.

Instead, Mr Mulvaney will file his own lawsuit.

The congressional panel also released testimony from Ms Catherine Croft and Mr Christopher Anderson, both advisers to Ambassador Kurt Volker, who described their concerns about the Trump administration's Ukraine policy.

Mr Volker was Mr Trump's special representative for Ukraine negotiations until he resigned in September.

The new transcripts come as the impeachment inquiry by the Democratic-led US House of Representatives committees enters a crucial new public phase.

The first on-camera hearings in the investigation are set for later this week and focused on accusations that Mr Trump improperly withheld security money as leverage to pressure Ukraine to investigate political rival Joe Biden.

On Wednesday and Friday, US diplomats William Taylor, George Kent and Marie Yovanovitch are due to detail in public their concerns, previously expressed in testimony behind closed doors, that Mr Trump and his administration sought to tie the security aid to investigations that might benefit his 2020 re-election bid.

The public testimony before the House Intelligence Committee will be carried by major broadcast and cable television networks and is expected to be viewed by millions of people, as Democrats seek to make the case for Mr Trump's removal from office.

Mr Trump took to Twitter on Monday to fume again about the investigation.

He said he would release this week a transcript of an earlier call he had with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Ms Cooper's Oct 23 closed-door testimony became the scene of one of the most explosive moments of the inquiry so far, when about two dozen Republican lawmakers and allies of Mr Trump stormed the secure room where she was speaking.

Critics denounced the lawmakers' actions, saying they had compromised US security by taking phones into the secure room.

Mr Trump and some of his supporters have argued that the US$391 million in aid were blocked to press Mr Zelensky's government to fight corruption, not to seek an investigation of Mr Biden and his son. - REUTERS