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Buried Lead? MSNBC’s Ari Melber Uncovers Key Impeachment Report Info: U.S. Still Withholding $35M in Ukraine Aid

It’s hardly shocking, given its 300-page length, that not every bit of newsworthy information has been unearthed from the newly-released House impeachment report. But one MSNBC host and his team did a deep dive — and found a potentially crucial nugget.

Thursday night on The Beat, Ari Melber took aim at a crucial Republican talking point against impeachment — that President Donald Trump could not have engaged in a quid pro quo with Ukraine on military aid because Ukraine ultimately got the money without delivering on an investigation of Joe Biden. Melber asserted that, in the first place, attempted bribery is still a crime. But beyond that, the MSNBC host also — citing page 145 of the impeachment report — showed that Ukraine has, in fact, not yet gotten all of the money. And that President Donald Trump is responsible.

“[T]his report … cuts into Trump’s defense on the facts,” Melber said. “Because for all the talk … about the White House releasing all the Ukraine money, Trump’s actions have denied Ukraine not a dollar, or a hundred thousand dollars, or a million dollars. But $35 million of that aid — the report noting Pentagon officials confirming Ukraine still has not received 35 million in security assistance yet to be dispersed. Meaning those funds which were approved under U.S. Law have not gone out.”

From the report:

Prior to the release of the funds, DOD’s internal analysis raised concerns that up to $100 million of military assistance could go unspent as a result of the hold imposed by the
President. Ultimately, approximately $35 million of Ukraine military assistance — 14% of the
total funds — remained unspent by the end of fiscal year 2019. Typically, DOD averages
between 2 and 5 percent unspent funds for similar programs, substantially less than the 14
percent left unspent in this case.

In order to ensure that Ukraine did not permanently lose $35 million of the critical
military assistance frozen by the White House, Congress passed a provision on September
27 — three days before funds were set to expire — to ensure that the remaining $35 million in
2019 military assistance to Ukraine could be spent. Ms. Cooper testified that such an act of
Congress was unusual — indeed, she had never heard of funding being extended in this
manner.

As of November 2019, Pentagon officials confirmed that the $35 million in security
assistance originally held by the President and extended by Congress had still yet to be
disbursed. When asked for an explanation, the Pentagon only confirmed that the funds had not
yet been spent but declined to say why.

Melber called this, “new evidence against Donald Trump for his potential impeachment.”

“Any time you hear this defense that actually all the money went to Ukraine — the kind of ‘no harm, no foul’ defense — the news is … that is factually false,” he said. “Not all the money went to Ukraine. And as of tonight, the Trump Administration still doesn’t have a good reason as to why.”

Watch above, via MSNBC.

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Joe DePaolo is a Senior Editor at Mediaite. Email him here: [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @joe_depaolo