White House review turns up emails showing extensive effort to justify Trump’s decision to block Ukraine military aid

© Oliver Contreras/For The Washington Post Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney

One person briefed on the records examination said White House lawyers are expressing concern that the review has turned up some unflattering exchanges and facts that could at a minimum embarrass the president. It’s unclear if the Mulvaney discussions or other records pose any legal problems for Trump in the impeachment inquiry, but some fear they could pose political problems if revealed publicly.

People familiar with the Office of Budget and Management’s handling of the holdup in aid acknowledged the internal discussions going on during August, but characterized the conversations as calm, routine and focused on the legal question of how to comply with the congressional Budget and Impoundment Act, which requires the executive branch to spend congressionally appropriated funds unless Congress agrees they can be rescinded.

In the early August email exchanges, Mulvaney asked acting Office of Management and Budget director Russell Vought for an update on the legal rationale for withholding the aid and how much longer it could be delayed. Trump had made the decision the prior month without an assessment of the reasoning or legal justification, according to two White House officials. Emails show Vought and OMB staffers arguing that withholding aid was legal, while officials at the National Security Council and State Department protested. OMB lawyers said that it was legal to withhold the aid, as long as they deemed it a “temporary” hold, according to people familiar with the review.

Cipollone’s office has focused closely on correspondence that could be subject to public records requests, those which involve discussions between staff at the White House and at other agencies. Internal White House records are not subject to federal public records law but messages that include officials at federal agencies are.

Article URL : https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/white-house-review-turns-up-emails-showing-extensive-effort-to-justify-trump-s-decision-to-block-ukraine-military-aid/ar-BBXgYXi?li=BBnb7Kz&fbclid=IwAR1cCisT0fx18h_kN8IsCkl3zHNfFBkim9yQOhb1XjzlQYpeidpF8DWG5EI

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