On June 18, 2019 the US Department of Defense announced $250 million in aid to Ukraine as approved by the US Congress in May. But without input from the White House’s foreign policy experts, the republican President Donald Trump decided to freeze these funds from being delivered to Ukraine from May-September 11, 2019.
On July 25, President Trump had the controversial phone call with Ukraine’s recently elected President Volodymyr Zelensky where he discussed releasing the promised allocated funds but that he was asking for a personal favor that was election related, in return. The president was requesting an investigation for the development of dirt on a political rival and his son, who had been involved in prior dealings within Ukraine and its officials.
Around August 12th, a whistle-blower with connections to the White House forwarded a formal complaint to the ICIG Intelligence Community’s Inspector General Michael Atkinson regarding his concerns over this infamous July 25th phone conversation between President Trump and Ukraine’s President Zelensky.
After a verification process of about 2 weeks, the Inspector General deemed the whistle-blower’s complaint to be both credible and of an urgent concern to where he forwarded it on 8/26/2019 to the Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire.
By statute, Mr. Maguire had 7 days to study it before forwarding it to the US Congress, but this is where the whistle-blower’s complaint died because the (DOJ) US Department of Justice led by the Attorney General William Barr declared it to be not pertinent to the showing of an “urgent concern.”
Fortunately, the “whistle-blower’s complaint was resurrected from the trash heap, when the House’s Intelligence Committee’s Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff requested that Mr. Maguire provide him with a copy of the whistle-blower’s complaint on 9/10/2019 which was followed up by a subpoena, dated 9/13/2019, as per the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act, or ICWPA.
Instead of sending it to Congress, as he was legally obligated to do, Maguire asked the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel, which makes law that binds the executive branch. The OLC declared that he could not pass it on in an opinion later released to the public in modified form, holding that the whistleblower complaint did not pertain to a matter of “urgent concern.”
It’s no wonder the White House had worked over-time to push out the door, the former, highly reputable Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats around mid-August 2019.
As President Trump has been excusing his decision to delay sending the promised funds to Ukraine, from May-September 11, 2019, with the claim that the White House had been working with Ukraine to contain the corruption that had been growing in this fledgling democracy, what’s been missing, is adequate coverage over the reality that the Pentagon had already taken on this task, prior to the US Congress allocating any military aid to Ukraine in May, 2019.
Prior to Congress approving these monies for Ukraine in May 2019, the Pentagon had certified that “the government of Ukraine has taken substantial actions to make defense institutional reforms for the purposes of decreasing corruption [and] increasing accountability, and sustaining improvements of combat capability enabled by U.S. assistance…now that this defense institutional reform has occurred,” the Defense Department can provide support to Ukraine…Implementation of this further support will begin no sooner than 15 days following this notification.”
As per a 9/27/2019 FactCheck.org. report, “This was the second notice sent to Congress regarding $250 million Congress had appropriated for security aid to Ukraine for fiscal 2019. According to an aide to Sen. Dick Durbin, the ranking Democrat on the subcommittee on defense appropriations, the first notice on the Defense Department’s plan for the appropriated money was sent in February.”
As Politico noted, President Trump’s justification for delaying the military aid shifted to the president complaining that he had wanted other countries other than the United States to contribute. The hole in this argument is that other countries have already contributed more funds than the USA to help Ukraine in its resistance to Russia’s expansionist tactics for the past 5 years.
Here is the rest of the story…
As per 9/26/2019 Fox News report, “Pentagon certified Ukraine had taken ‘substantial actions’ to clean up corruption, green lighting $250M in military aid in May” by Jennifer Griffin, Lucas Tomlinson, and Melissa Leon | Fox News:
“Fox News has confirmed that the Pentagon’s undersecretary for policy, John Rood, sent a letter to Capitol Hill lawmakers in May 2019 certifying “the government of Ukraine has taken substantial actions to make defense institutional reforms for the purposes of decreasing corruption [and] increasing accountability,” as first reported by NPR.”
“The $250 million in military aid was released on Sept. 11, a day after House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., made a formal request to transmit a whistleblower complaint concerning the president’s Ukraine call to the committee. To date, $225 million has been allocated, according to defense officials.”
On Aug. 26, the whistleblower complaint was forwarded to Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire.
“Schiff subpoenaed Maguire on Sept. 13, claiming the acting director was unlawfully withholding a whistleblower complaint from Congress, possibly to protect the president or top administration officials. Maguire testified publicly before the committee on Thursday.”
“Defense Secretary Mark Esper tweeted on Sept. 18 that he had a “productive call” with Ukraine’s defense minister.”
“I am optimistic about his vision for MoD [the Ministry of Defense] and commitment to defense and anti-corruption reforms. I expressed unwavering U.S. support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Esper said.”
“The delay raises questions about whether DoD officials were involved in any scheme to target a political opponent,” he tweeted.”