President Donald Trump asked his acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to put a hold on millions in military aid to Ukraine roughly one week before a call with the Ukrainian president in which he pressured the country to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, two senior administration officials said on Monday.
Trump was primarily concerned with “corruption” in Ukraine and Europe shouldering more of the financial burden for supporting Ukraine’s defense, according to one of the officials.
There is no evidence of wrongdoing by either Joe or Hunter Biden.
The Washington Post was first to report that Trump told Mulvaney to put a hold on almost $400 million in military aid for Ukraine.
Citing three senior administration officials with knowledge of the internal deliberations, the Post said officials at the Office of Management and Budget passed along Trump’s request to the Pentagon and the State Department at an interagency meeting in mid-July.
According to the paper, administration officials were told to tell lawmakers that the delay in aid was the result of an “interagency process” without giving more information.
News of Trump’s order to withhold aid to the Ukraine ahead of his July 25 call may trigger questions — and speculation — about the President’s motive in doing so.
On Friday, CNN reported Trump pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in the call to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, according to a person familiar with the situation. That call was part of the whistleblower complaint submitted to the Intelligence Community Inspector General, another person familiar with the situation told CNN.
Trump on Sunday said that he did indeed discuss Biden with Ukraine’s president — at a time when the country was awaiting the aid package from the United States — but he denied doing anything improper.
The growing controversy has brought House Democrats near a “tipping point” on impeachment as the party weighs how to respond to the incident. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who sharpened her rhetoric over the weekend, is still not committing to moving forward with impeachment proceedings — though she is keeping the door open.