Ukraine Knew of Aid Freeze by Early August, Undermining Trump Defense

Top officials were told in early August about the delay of $391 million in security assistance, undercutting a chief argument President Trump has used to deny any quid pro quo.

To Democrats who say that President Trump’s decision to freeze $391 million in military aid was intended to bully Ukraine’s leader into carrying out investigations for Mr. Trump’s political benefit, the president and his allies have had a simple response: There was no quid pro quo because the Ukrainians did not know assistance had been blocked.

But then on Tuesday, William B. Taylor Jr., the top United States diplomat in Kiev, told House impeachment investigators that the freeze was directly linked to Mr. Trump’s demand. That did not deter the president, who on Wednesday approvingly tweeted a quote by a congressional Republican saying neither Mr. Taylor nor any other witness had “provided testimony that the Ukrainians were aware that military aid was being withheld.”

In fact, word of the aid freeze had gotten to high-level Ukrainian officials by the first week in August, according to interviews and documents obtained by The New York Times.

The problem was not bureaucratic, the Ukrainians were told. To address it, they were advised, they should reach out to Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, according to the interviews and records.

It also means that the Ukrainian government was aware of the freeze during most of the period in August when Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani and two American diplomats were pressing President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to make a public commitment to the investigations.

Article URL : https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/23/us/politics/ukraine-aid-freeze-impeachment.html

%d bloggers like this: