United States president Donald Trump. (Reuters)
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WASHINGTON – A senior Pentagon official detailed confusion and concern in the U.S. national security apparatus after the White House blocked aid to Ukraine without explanation, according to testimony released on Monday by the congressional impeachment panel into U.S. President Donald Trump.
Testimony by Laura Cooper, deputy assistant secretary of defence, was the latest to be made public that showed the internal machinations of the administration as Trump insisted that nearly $400 million in aid slated for Ukraine be withheld until its president publicly launch an investigation into one of Trump’s top political rivals.
Also on Monday, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney withdrew a motion to join a lawsuit seeking to have a judge settle whether he can be compelled by Congress to testify in the inquiry. Instead, Mulvaney will file his own lawsuit.
The congressional panel also released testimony on Monday from Catherine Croft and Christopher Anderson, both advisers to Ambassador Kurt Volker on Ukraine policy, who described their concerns about the Trump administration’s Ukraine policy. Volker was Trump’s special representative for Ukraine negotiations until he resigned in September.
The new transcripts come two days before the impeachment inquiry by Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives committees enters a crucial new public phase.
The first on-camera hearings in the investigation are set for later this week and focused on accusations that Trump improperly withheld security money as leverage to pressure Ukraine to investigate political rival Joe Biden.
On Wednesday and Friday, U.S. diplomats William Taylor, George Kent and Marie Yovanovitch are due to detail in public their concerns, previously expressed in testimony behind closed doors, that Trump and his administration sought to tie the security aid to investigations that might benefit his 2020 re-election bid.
The public testimony before the House Intelligence Committee will be carried by major broadcast and cable television networks and is expected to be viewed by millions of people, as Democrats seek to make the case for Trump’s removal from office. (Reuters)