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“Clear direction from POTUS:” new emails reveal depth of Trump role in Ukraine quid pro quo

“Clear direction from POTUS:” new emails reveal depth of Trump role in Ukraine quid pro quo

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Just in time for the new year, the website JustSecurity.org has managed to get a hold of the unredacted copies of the Trump administration emails that were obtained in redacted form last month by the Center for Public Integrity in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.

The newly revealed details in the documents provide additional insight into the internal controversy at the Pentagon and the Office of Management and Budget caused by Donald Trump’s orders to withhold congressionally-mandated military aid from Ukraine until that country cooperated with his illegal attempts to find weaponizable intelligence on his potential Democratic opponent in the 2020 presidential election, Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

According to JustSecurity:

“The documents reveal growing concern from Pentagon officials that the hold would violate the Impoundment Control Act, which requires the executive branch to spend money as appropriated by Congress, and that the necessary steps to avoid this result weren’t being taken. Those steps would include notifying Congress that the funding was being held or shifted elsewhere, a step that was never taken. The emails also show that no rationale was ever given for why the hold was put in place or why it was eventually lifted.”

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The unredacted documents support the accusations of abuse of power contained in the first article of impeachment against Trump, showing that the hold was initiated by the president and that he alone supported the move.

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“Clear direction from POTUS to continue to hold,” wrote Michael Duffey, associate director of national security programs at the Office of Management and Budget in an incriminating email to Elaine McCusker, the acting Pentagon comptroller, on August 30th of last year.

The emails fail to indicate that any sort of policy review, the official explanation for holding up the aid, was taking place in reality and that “officials were anxiously waiting for the president to be convinced that the hold was a bad idea,” according to the website.

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They also demonstrate the level of concern among Pentagon officials over being held accountable for the violation of the law that would occur if the hold on the aid were to be lifted too late to spend the allocated funds, with senior defense officials seeking legal guidance on how to handle the situation.

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JustSecurity provides a detailed timeline of the effort to withhold the congressionally-appropriated Ukraine military aid from its start in early June until the initial attempts were abruptly abandoned after news of the impending whistleblower complaint was discovered by the White House that is worth reading to see just how concerned and frustrated Pentagon officials were with the responses they were receiving from the administration’s Office of Management and Budget.

That alienation was exemplified by McCusker’s response to a letter from Duffey that dripped with amazement at the audacity of the OMB’s efforts to escape blame for the ramifications of the hold:

“You can’t be serious. I am speechless,” the acting Pentagon comptroller wrote after the OMB seemed to be trying to pass responsibilty for the potential Impoundment Control Act violation to the Defense Department.

All of the information discovered in the unredacted emails — which came to light after the Housed impeachment hearings had already concluded — prove why additional witnesses need to be called either in a re-opened House investigation or as part of the upcoming Senate impeachment trial.

With Trump tweeting out defensive lies on a constant basis about his perfect phone call and denying that there is justification for what he calls a Democratic “witch hunt,” half the country still is unaware of the reality and seriousness of the president’s crimes.

Hopefully, this new evidence will push the case for Trump’s removal from the office of the presidency forward and help restore a legitimate and trustworthy democracy to our country.

Follow Vinnie Longobardo on Twitter.

Original reporting by Kate Brannen at JustSecurity.org.

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