US President Donald Trump (File photo)
US President Donald Trump (File photo)

New releases show Ukraine aid freeze began 90 minutes after Trump-Zelensky call

ANI | Updated: Dec 23, 2019 12:04 IST

Washington D.C. [USA], Dec 23 (ANI): The White House, roughly 90 minutes after the telephonic conversation between US President Donald Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25, ordered the Pentagon to freeze security funding for Kiev, according to new government documents released on Sunday.
"Based on guidance, I have received and in light of the administration's plan to review assistance to Ukraine, including the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, please hold off on any additional DoD (Department of Defence) obligations of these funds, pending direction from that process," Mike Duffey from the White House, in charge of overseeing national security money, said.
"Given the sensitive nature of the request, I appreciate your keeping that information closely held to those who need to know to execute direction," CNN quoted Duffey as saying.
While a formal notification is due to be sent later, Sunday's revelation was the first clear sign that the aid was being held -- a short time after the phone call in which Trump pressed Zelensky for investigations that could boost the former's presidential bid in 2020 election.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer renewed his call for Duffey to be a witness at the Senate impeachment trial, saying that the e-mail showcases the information he may be able to offer.
"If there was ever an argument that we need Duffey to come to testify, this is that information. This e-mail is explosive. A top administration official, one that we requested, is saying, that stop the aid 90 minutes after Trump called Zelensky and said keep it hush, hush. What more do you need to request a witness?" Schumer said at a news conference in New York on Sunday.
The budget office, however, dismissed linking the hold of the aid to the call.
While much of the release was redacted, the documents shed some light on the conversations between two government organisations who were carrying out the President's orders even amid concerns by some that they could run afoul of the law.
Though these releases have been heavily redacted, they begin to shade in more detail about officials' exchanges regarding the Ukraine aid pause, which House Democrats pursued as they investigated and impeached the President.
However, they could not access the documents because of the White House's refusal to comply with congressional subpoenas.
More public document releases are scheduled in January to groups that have sued. (ANI)