WASHINGTON (AP) — In a blow to GOP defenses of President Donald Trump, a Defense Department official said Wednesday the Ukrainian government asked “what was going on” with U.S. military aid as early as July 25 — the very day that Trump asked Ukraine’s president to investigate Democrats.
Testifying in an evening hearing, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper told lawmakers her staff recently showed her emails that she had not yet seen when she testified behind closed doors last month in the impeachment probe looking into Trump’s dealings with Ukraine.
Cooper said her staff received an email on July 25 from a Ukrainian embassy contact asking “what was going on with Ukraine’s security assistance.” She said she “cannot say for certain” that Ukraine was aware the aid was being withheld, but said “it’s the recollection of my staff that they likely knew.”
Republicans have argued there couldn’t be a “quid pro quo” — investigations into Democrats for military aid — if Ukrainians weren’t aware of a hold on the aid.
“Your testimony today destroys two of the pillars of the president’s defense,” said Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif. “The first pillar: No harm no foul. The Ukrainians didn’t know that the hold was in place, so it didn’t really hurt them. The second pillar: This president was a real champion of anti-corruption.”
Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Zelenskiy occurred in the morning in Washington. After Zelenskiy pressed for the military aid, Trump suggested Ukraine “look into” Joe Biden and his son Hunter, who was on the board of a huge Ukrainian natural gas company.
In addition to the email from the Ukrainian Embassy, Cooper testified that her staff also received two emails from the State Department that afternoon of July 25. One said “that the Ukrainian Embassy and House Foreign Affairs Committee are asking about security assistance.” A second email said “the Hill knows about the (military aid) situation to an extent and so does the Ukrainian Embassy.”
Wednesday’s second impeachment hearing has come to a close.
Department of Defense official Laura Cooper and David Hale, the No. 3 State Department official, testified into the evening as part of Democrats’ impeachment inquiry. It was the fourth of five impeachment hearings this week.
Cooper testified that her staff had given her new information that the Ukrainian Embassy had asked about military aid in July, earlier than was previously known.
Democrats are investigating President Donald Trump’s requests that Ukraine investigate Democrats as the U.S. was withholding that security assistance.
The impeachment hearings start again Thursday morning, with former White House official Fiona Hill and diplomat David Holmes.
A Defense Department official is testifying that the Ukrainian embassy was asking questions of her staff about a hold on military aid as far back as July 25, the day President Donald Trump asked Ukraine’s president to investigate Democrats.
Testifying in an evening impeachment hearing, Laura Cooper told lawmakers her staff has showed her emails she had not yet seen when she testified behind closed doors last month in the impeachment probe looking into Trump’s dealings with Ukraine.
The embassy’s July questions show Ukrainians were aware of a possible hold on the aid earlier than previously known.
Republicans have argued there was no “quid pro quo” — investigations into Democrats for military aid — if Ukrainians weren’t aware of a hold on the aid.
Defense Department official Laura Cooper says she became aware in July that a hold was being placed on military aid to Ukraine and it had been directed by President Donald Trump.
Cooper is the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia and Ukraine. She is testifying Wednesday before a House committee in the impeachment inquiry into Trump.
Cooper says she never spoke to the president about the hold, but she heard the hold was placed because of his concerns over corruption in Ukraine.
She says the funds were critical to supporting Ukraine. She says she was under the impression that the money was legally required to be obligated by Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year, and she fought to get it done.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff has gaveled in the second session of Wednesday’s impeachment hearings, featuring testimony on President Donald Trump’s moves to hold up military aid to Ukraine and his decision to fire Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.
Under Secretary of State David Hale and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper are likely to testify into the evening.
In earlier closed-door testimony, Cooper said she advised other administration officials that Trump held up the aid through instructions to the White House Budget office and said she raised concerns to other government officials about the legality of holding up the aid to Ukraine.
Hale promises to provide details about the ouster of Yovanovitch, who was ousted after a smear campaign by Rudy Guiliani, Trump’s personal lawyer.