'More evidence of the president’s corrupt scheme': Newly released e-mails detail White House ‘coverup’ to withhold military aid to Ukraine

'More evidence of the president’s corrupt scheme': Newly released e-mails detail White House ‘coverup’ to withhold military aid to Ukraine
Volodymyr Zelensky, Image via Wikimedia Commons / Government of Ukraine.

More than a month has passed since President Donald Trump was indicted on two articles of impeachment by the U.S. House of Representatives, but new evidence that is relevant to the Ukraine scandal and Trump’s impeachment continues to surface. This week, an abundance of Ukraine-related e-mails were released, and a January 22 article written by journalist Colin Kalmbacher for Law & Crime stresses that some of them “reveal White House officials allegedly plotting to withhold military aid in violation of federal law — even before President Donald Trump’s infamous July 25, 2019 phone call.”

The July 25, 2019 phone call that Kalmbacher is referring to is Trump’s conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. House Democrats have been arguing that Trump committed an impeachable offense when he tried to pressure Zelensky into investigating a political rival — former Vice President Joe Biden — and his son, Hunter Biden, and made that investigation a condition of military aid to Ukraine.

“Released by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) per the terms of a court order, the 192-pages-worth of heavily-redacted emails came to light through an exceptionally well-timed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request,” Kalmbacher explains. And he notes that “observers immediately noticed that many of those FOIA-produced documents had not been provided to the House of Representatives, though all would have been considered relevant and responsive to the Democratic Party’s impeachment investigations in the House.”

Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont has discussed the release of the Ukraine-related e-mails on Twitter, posting, “While Senate (Republicans) voted to blindfold the Senate to key docs (and) witnesses that Trump blocked the House from considering, thanks to (FOIA) more damning bits (and) pieces of the truth emerged late LAST NIGHT about Trump’s ILLEGAL Ukraine aid freeze.”

Leahy also tweeted, “Despite RAMPANT abuse of FOIA exemptions (and) redactions (literal cover ups), the docs show (White House) staff laying the groundwork for the unlawful aid hold, the DAY BEFORE and EVEN DURING Trump’s infamous call with Pres. Zelensky. Don’t Americans deserve the full story?”

Kalmbacher points out that although most of the Ukraine-related e-mails are “blacked out with the official censor’s digital pen,” they “do show White House and Republican operatives discussing the aid withholding scheme days before Trump spoke with Zelensky and allegedly attempted to leverage that aid into an investigation aimed at potential 2020 foe Joe Biden.”

Austin Evers, director of the watchdog group American Oversight, asserted that the e-mails are much more important than Trump’s attorneys would have Americans believe.

“President Trump’s lawyers stood in the Senate on Tuesday arguing that documents are totally unnecessary for the impeachment trial, but these documents give lie to that entire position,” Evers asserted in an official statement. “Despite the Trump Administration’s obstruction and the rhetoric at the trial, the public can now see even more evidence of the president’s corrupt scheme as it unfolded in real time. The volume of material released, and the volume of material still secreted away, only highlights how much the administration has withheld from the House, the Senate and the American public.”

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