Newly released e-mails show how much Trump’s OMB 'lied' to Congress in the Ukraine scandal: report

Newly released e-mails show how much Trump’s OMB 'lied' to Congress in the Ukraine scandal: report
President Donald J. Trump addresses his remarks at the Nation’s Mayors on Transforming America’s Communities meeting Friday, Jan. 24, 2020, in the East Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour)

Despite the mountain of evidence that House Democrats presented during their impeachment inquiry last year, Republicans in the U.S. Senate (except for Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah) were determined to acquit President Donald Trump on both of the charges that he faced. Nonetheless, new evidence in the Ukraine scandal continues to come in, including unredacted e-mails that have been obtained by Just Security and show that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) knew more than previously thought about the hold that Trump placed on military aid to Ukraine.

According to Just Security’s Kate Brannen, the e-mails “confirm that OMB, including the general counsel’s office, was fully in the loop about the Pentagon’s concerns and took active steps to bury them. They also expose the extent to which OMB misled and even lied to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), a congressional investigative body, as the GAO tried to understand the circumstances surrounding the funding hold.”

The e-mails, Brannen notes, “provide new evidence about how and why the Trump Administration withheld military assistance to Ukraine, the Senate never subpoenaed them or any other documents or witnesses in Trump’s impeachment trial. If it had, senators, as well as the public, could read these e-mails in unredacted form for themselves.”

When Just Security obtained the unredacted e-mails, it received them on the condition that they not be published in unredacted form. However, Brannen offers a lot of details on the insights that the e-mails provide.

According to Brannen, “The e-mails also show OMB and Pentagon staffers fielding multiple requests from Capitol Hill in early August, before the hold was made public, asking: why is the money being held up? And then, after the hold is lifted on September 11, journalists start asking: what happened to get it lifted? No one seems to have any good answers.”

Brannen, in Just Security, explains how the e-mails are relevant to the testimony of Laura Cooper.

“In the e-mails, officials sometimes refer to a ‘deliberative’ or ‘interagency’ process taking place to review the Ukraine funding,” Brannen writes. “But by early August, there is no sign that any such a review is taking place. Laura Cooper, who oversees Ukraine policy at DoD, testified to House investigators that she participated in a series of interagency meetings on the Ukraine military assistance in late July, but that at these meetings, unanimous support was voiced that the hold should be lifted.”

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