Probe finds Mulvaney sought to justify Ukraine aid holdup after the fact: report

Source: The Hill | November 24, 2019 | Zack Budryk

Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and budget officials scrambled to reverse-engineer an explanation for the hold on military aid to Ukraine, according to the Washington Post, citing three people familiar with records of a White House review.

White House attorneys have expressed concern at unflattering exchanges discovered in a review of the records, although it is unclear whether they involve any potentially illegal activity. Despite this, some White House officials are concerned the publication of the emails could create political problems, according to the Post.

In early August, Mulvaney asked acting Office of Management and Budget director Russell Vought how much longer the aid could be legally delayed as well as the OMB’s progress on developing a legal rationale for the hold. Trump had made the decision in July without consulting anyone on its legality, according to the Post, citing two White House officials.

Vought and other OMB staffers argued for the hold’s legality in the emails with State Department and National Security Officials pushing back, according to the Post, with OMB attorneys arguing it was legally justifiable as long as it was considered a “temporary” hold.

On July 25, the day of Trump’s call with  Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, a senior budget attorney wrote a memo defending a limited hold, according to the Post.

The review also includes email conversations between OMB and State officials discussing potential legal issues with nearly $400 million in military aid the White House was holding up, according to the Post.

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