JUST IN: DOD Official Offers Evidence Ukraine Knew of Military Aid Hold-Up as Early as July Trump-Zelensky Call
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper dropped a unexpected revelation at the end of her opening statement on Wednesday, providing additional testimony that the Ukrainian government was aware of “issues with the flow” of security assistance as early as the day of the infamous July 25 phone call between Presidents Donald Trump and Volodymyr Zelensky.
Cooper explained that after her prior, closed-door testimony in the impeachment inquiry was made public earlier this month, her staff made her aware of additional communications involving the Ukrainian Embassy asking about the military aid.
“Specifically, on the issue of Ukraine’s knowledge of the hold or Ukraine asking questions about possible issues with the flow of assistance, my staff showed me two unclassified e-mails that they received from the State Department,” she noted. “One was received on July 25th, at 2:31 P.M. That e-mail said that the Ukrainian embassy and house foreign affairs committee are asking about security assistance. The second e-mail was received July 25th at 4:25 P.M. That e-mail said the Hill [Congress] knows about the FMF [Foreign Military Financing] situation to an extent and so does the Ukrainian embassy.”
House Intel Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA) led off the questioning of Cooper and immediately drilled into Cooper’s new evidence (see video below).
“I want to begin by asking you, Ms. Cooper, about what you just informed us of so I understand the import of what you’re saying,” Schiff noted. “As early as July 25th, the same day President Trump spoke with President Zelensky on the phone and asked for this favor, the same day that president Zelensky thanked the United States for its military support and signaled it was ready to purchase more Javelins on that date, you got inquiries, your staff got inquiries from someone at the Ukrainian embassy, who was concerned about the status of the military assistance, is that correct?”
“Sir, that’s correct,” Cooper affirmed. “I would say specifically the Ukrainian embassy staff asked what is going on with Ukrainian security assistance.”
“But your staff at least gleaned from those conversations the Ukrainian embassy learned there was some kind of hold on the assistance?” Schiff followed up, moments later.
“The way I would phrase it is there was some kind of an issue. Yes,” Cooper reiterated.
“You are now, Ms. Cooper, the third witness before our committee, who has testified that the Ukrainians found out about the problem or hold on the security assistance prior to it becoming public. But you’re the first to indicate that may go back as early as the date of the president’s call to President Zelensky.”
The timing of Ukraine’s knowledge about a military aid hold-up is a key fact in the impeachment inquiry, as Republicans have repeatedly claimed that the country was unaware of any block on the funds until early September, and so could not be expected to offer a political investigation in return for freeing it.
Watch the video above, via CNN.
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