Emails show Trump administration tried to justify withholding Ukraine aid after the fact

Wait, you mean Donald Trump’s decision to withhold vital aid from Ukraine wasn’t based on any sort of meticulous review? And so they had to create an ad hoc justification for … whatever the fuck he was doing?

According to The Washington Post, a review of Trump’s decision to withhold aid from Ukraine unearthed documents revealing “an after-the-fact justification for the decision and a debate over whether the delay was legal, according to three people familiar with the records.”

The review, which was conducted by the White House Counsel’s Office, was undertaken following the September announcement of a formal impeachment inquiry and includes “early August email exchanges between acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and White House budget officials seeking to provide an explanation for withholding the funds after President Trump had already ordered a hold in mid-July on the nearly $400 million in security assistance.”

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.

Gee, what are the chances the White House will hand over these documents voluntarily?

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.

Okay, so how much evidence do we need that Donald Trump withheld this aid for his own purposes — i.e., in order to smear a political rival? If Trump were a Democrat, you’d have to hold Moscow Mitch back with a muzzle and chain. But since Trump’s a crooked Republican, Mitch’ll likely pull a hamstring in his haste to acquit.

This is corruption at its purest. And Republicans will sit on their hands until they turn black and fall off.

What else is new?



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