Pentagon official offers evidence Ukrainians were aware of aid hold earlier

Source: Politico | November 20, 2019 | Natasha Bertrand, Nahal Toosi and Caitlin Oprysko

Two more witnesses are testifying Wednesday in the ongoing impeachment inquiry — including one who previously told investigators about the ouster of Marie Yovanovitch as ambassador to Ukraine.

Laura Cooper, deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Russia and Ukraine, previously testified about the frantic effort within the administration to get the withheld Ukraine released. And top State Department official David Hale in early November told impeachment investigators about Yovanovitch’s recall.

…….

A senior Defense Department official shared some startling information during her opening statement in Wednesday’s impeachment inquiry hearings: evidence that Ukrainian officials may have known about a hold on U.S. assistance well before news of it broke in late August.

Laura Cooper said that as early as July 25 — the same day President Donald Trump spoke to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky — her staffers received two emails indicating the Ukrainians were aware of the hold.

The revelations could undermine efforts by Republicans to paint Ukrainians as being ignorant of a hold on the aid, and thus arguing that they could not have felt pressure to conduct investigations of Trump’s political rivals as a result.

“My staff showed me two unclassified emails that they received from the State Department,” she said. “One was received on July 25th, at 2:31 P.M. That email said that the Ukrainian embassy and House Foreign Affairs Committee are asking about security assistance.”

She added: “The second email was received July 25th at 4:25 P.M. That email said the Hill knows about the [Foreign Military Financing] situation to an extent and so does the Ukrainian embassy.”

Cooper, who said she’d learned of these emails only after her private deposition, also added: “Sometime during the week of August 6-10, a Ukraine officer told a member of my staff a Ukrainian official might raise concerns about security assistance in an upcoming meeting.”

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