Politics in digital age: The White House paused financial military support to Ukraine 91 minutes after the infamous telephone call
The White House paused financial military support to Ukraine 91 minutes after the controversial telephone conversation between President Donald Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky. This was revealed on Sunday from newly released government documents requested by The Center For Public Integrity.
The documents include an e-mail from the White House senior official Mike Duffey to the Department of Defense instructing him to “wait a moment” with the planned assistance to Ukraine. He adds that this should be told to as few people as possible “given the sensitive nature of this information”.
The email was sent at 11.04 am, 91 minutes after the phone call. In it, Zelensky told the American president that Ukraine was “almost ready” to buy more anti-tank missiles. Trump responded with the request to investigate, among other things, the son of his political rival Joe Biden. “do us a favor,” he said. The phone call eventually led to Trump’s impeachment by the House of Representatives last Wednesday.
Democrats state that the email proves that witnesses must be heard in the final step of the Senate sediment investigation. The Republicans are against this and they determine the rules of the process.
The Senate will soon decide whether Trump will actually be deposed, a date has not yet been set for this. It is unlikely that Trump will be deposed, because the Senate is in the hands of Republicans who are usually loyal to Trump.
The mail caused a lot of nervousness at the Office for Management and Budget (OMB), who had to implement the decision. According to the law, the White House is not allowed to withhold unauthorized expenditure that Congress has approved. The releases had to be made on September 30 before the end of the fiscal year, which aggravated the turmoil at the OMB.
The agency then squeezed itself into all sorts of turns to comply with the law by using a system of temporary pauses. Up to eight times the same footnote was stuck on budget documents, in which stopping aid was called a temporary measure. In the meantime, employees of the OMB and others lobbyed feverishly to continue the financial support and to comply with the law; meetings were held, strategies were drawn up and members of Trumps cabinet were approached.
Two employees of the OMB – who have remained anonymous – have now stepped in because of dissatisfaction with the potentially illegal policy, as was shown in a testimony in Congress by Mark Sandy, leader of the OMB who was responsible for spending on state security.