By Sara Murray, Katelyn Polantz and Tammy Kupperman, CNN
Updated 2:24 PM ET, Sun December 22, 2019
Laura Cooper: Ukraine knew about aid issue as early as July 25
Washington (CNN)Roughly 90 minutes after President Donald Trump spoke to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25, Trump’s political appointees at the White House’s budget office were already ordering the Pentagon to freeze 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.