All roads lead to Russia: State Dept. official reveals Mick Mulvaney feared aid to Ukraine would anger the Kremlin

All roads lead to Russia: State Dept. official reveals Mick Mulvaney feared aid to Ukraine would anger the Kremlin
White House acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney speaks with reporters Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House. (Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian)

In another all roads lead to Russia revelation, a State Department official and former National Security Council member, told congressional investigators that then-budget chief Mick Mulvaney halted the sale of anti-tank Javelin missiles to Ukraine in late 2017 over fears that it would upset Russia.

Catherine Croft testified that the Mulvaney-led Office of Management and Budget (OMB) put a hold on the decision to sell the missiles to Ukraine over worries that "Russia would react negatively to the provision." Croft said that was how OMB director Mulvaney described the reasoning. Asked if any other agencies involved in approval of the sale were similarly concerned about such a transaction, Croft called OMB the "lone objector." Meanwhile, the National Security Council and State Department both supported selling the missiles to Ukraine, she testified, adding that in her opinion not providing the anti-tank missiles would serve Russia's interests.

Croft also characterized the OMB decision as policy based rather than budget based, which she said was an aberration. "Typically, its role is usually limited to the budget a side of things," she said. "So it was rather unusual to have OMB expressing concerns that were purely policy-based and not budget-oriented."

Croft said Mulvaney also placed the hold on security assistance to Ukraine earlier this year. She was informed of the delay during a July 18 video conference with an OMB staffer who revealed the hold. "The only reason given was that the order came at the direction of the President," she said in her opening statement.

Croft also testified in her opening statement that she received "multiple" calls from former Republican congressman-turned-lobbyist Robert Livingston urging the firing of Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, who was the target of a coordinated smear campaign.

"It was not clear to me at the time—or now—at whose direction or at whose expense Mr. Livingston was seeking the removal of Ambassador Yovanovitch," Croft wrote.  Croft further testified that she believed Yovanovitch "to be an extraordinarily competent and skillful diplomat."

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