Shortly after President Donald Trump spoke to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25, Trump’s political appointees were already tasked with carrying out a freeze on security funding for Ukraine, newly released government documents show.
“Based on guidance I have received and in light of the Administration’s plan to review assistance to Ukraine, including the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, please hold off on any additional DoD obligations of these funds, pending direction from that process,” Mike Duffey, the White House official in the Office of Management and Budget responsible for overseeing national security money and a Trump political appointee, wrote to select OMB and Pentagon officials on July 25.
Duffey’s email suggests that he knew the hold could raise concerns.
“Given the sensitive nature of the request, I appreciate your keeping that information closely held to those who need to know to execute direction,” Duffey said.
While a formal notification would be sent later that day, this was the first clear sign that the aid was being held — a short time after the phone call in which Trump pressed Zelensky for investigations that could boost Trump politically.
While much of the release was redacted, the documents shed some light on the conversations between two government organizations who were carrying out the President’s orders even amid concerns by some that they could run afoul of the law.
Also on Friday night, the government transparency group American Oversight received five pages of heavily redacted emails about the Ukraine aid, including some sent by Department of Defense Secretary Mark Esper.