ICYMI: Trump Released Ukraine’s Military Aid AFTER He Found Out About Whistleblower Complaint

Here’s the latest news about Trump’s gross abuse of power:

Trump learned about the whistleblower complaint in late August. That means he already knew about the complaint when he falsely claimed there was “no quid pro quo” — and he knew about it weeks before the military aid was released.

New York Times: “President Trump had already been briefed on a whistle-blower’s complaint about his dealings with Ukraine when he unfroze military aid for the country in September, according to two people familiar with the matter. Lawyers from the White House counsel’s office told Mr. Trump in late August about the complaint, explaining that they were trying to determine whether they were legally required to give it to Congress, the people said. The revelation could shed light on Mr. Trump’s thinking at two critical points under scrutiny by impeachment investigators: his decision in early September to release $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine and his denial to a key ambassador around the same time that there was a ‘quid pro quo’ with Kyiv. Mr. Trump used the phrase before it had entered the public lexicon in the Ukraine affair.”

The military aid was officially withheld on July 25, the same day as Trump’s call with Zelensky. The hold was formalized just hours after the Pentagon received emails indicating that Ukraine was aware there was an issue with the aid.

CNN: “The White House budget office’s first official action to withhold $250 million in Pentagon aid to Ukraine came on the evening of July 25, the same day President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke on the phone, according to a House Budget Committee summary of the office’s documents.”

CNN: “Trump spoke to Zelensky the morning of July 25 around 9 a.m. ET. Laura Cooper, the deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Russian, Ukrainian, and Eurasian affairs, testified before Congress that that afternoon there were three interactions from her staff that indicate the Ukrainian government was aware there was an issue with US aid to the country.”

Mulvaney’s staff wrote that Trump had personally ordered the military aid be withheld, according to OMB official Mark Sandy. Sandy also testified that Trump asked for more information on the military aid on June 19 — a month before OMB told other agencies about the hold — and directed the aid to be withheld on July 12.

Politico: “On July 12, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney’s office informed OMB that Trump planned to halt Ukraine’s military aid without providing an explanation for the freeze, Sandy said.”

Politico: “Sandy also told investigators that Duffey told him on June 19 that Trump had seen a media report on the military aid to Ukraine, which triggered his interest in the issue.”

Two Trump administration officials resigned in part in protest of the military aid being withheld. Sandy also testified that at least two OMB officials resigned while voicing concerns over the hold on military aid.

Politico: “Mark Sandy, whose closed-door deposition transcript was released Tuesday, said the initial concerns about the hold on military aid caused at least two officials within the Office of Management and Budget to resign.”

The White House engaged in “extensive efforts” to find an after-the-fact justification for Trump’s withholding of the aid. A White House review found Mulvaney made the request days after the White House Counsel’s Office learned that the whistleblower had complained to the CIA general counsel about the Zelensky call.

Washington Post: “A confidential White House review of President Trump’s decision to place a hold on military aid to Ukraine has turned up hundreds of documents that reveal extensive efforts to generate an after-the-fact justification for the decision and a debate over whether the delay was legal, according to three people familiar with the records.”

Washington Post: “Mulvaney’s request for information came days after the White House Counsel’s Office was put on notice that an anonymous CIA official had made a complaint to the agency’s general counsel about Trump’s July 25 call to Zelensky during which he requested Ukraine investigate former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, as well as an unfounded theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.”

Newly released emails further implicated Pompeo in Trump’s Ukraine pressure campaign. The emails show that Pompeo spoke with Giuliani at least twice in March of this year — when Giuliani was busy pushing for the ouster of Ambassador Yovanovitch — including one call facilitated by Trump’s personal assistant.

New York Times: “Internal State Department emails and documents released late Friday further implicate Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a campaign orchestrated this year by President Trump and his personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani to pressure Ukraine for political favors. The emails indicate that Mr. Pompeo spoke at least twice by telephone with Mr. Giuliani in March as Mr. Giuliani was urging Ukraine to investigate Mr. Trump’s rivals, and trying to oust a respected American ambassador to Ukraine, Marie L. Yovanovitch, who had been promoting anticorruption efforts in the country. Mr. Pompeo ordered Ms. Yovanovitch’s removal the next month. One call between Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Pompeo was arranged with guidance from Mr. Trump’s personal assistant, the documents suggest.”

Giuliani offered a Ukrainian oligarch legal help in exchange for his help damaging Trump’s political opponent. Giuliani sent his now-indicted associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman to extend an offer to Dmitry Firtash that Giuliani would use his political connections to help him with his American legal troubles, if Firtash hired lawyers who were already helping Giuliani with the effort to take down  Trump’s political opponent. As promised, those lawyers met with Attorney General Barr to plead Firtash’s case.

New York Times: “In the case of Mr. Firtash, an energy tycoon with deep ties to the Kremlin who is facing extradition to the United States on bribery and racketeering charges, one of Mr. Giuliani’s associates has described offering the oligarch help with his Justice Department problems — if Mr. Firtash hired two lawyers who were close to President Trump and were already working with Mr. Giuliani on his dirt-digging mission. Mr. Firtash said the offer was made in late June when he met with Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, both Soviet-born businessmen involved in Mr. Giuliani’s Ukraine pursuit. […] And in late August, Ms. Toensing and Mr. diGenova did as promised: They went to the Justice Department and pleaded Mr. Firtash’s case with the attorney general, William P. Barr.”