Federal budget official Mark Sandy testified to the House impeachment inquiry that two aids resigned over the handling of Ukraine aid.
Sandy, an Office of Management and Budget official, testified he learned of the hold on U.S. aid in early July through an email that President Donald Trump had directed a hold on military support funds.
But it was only in early September that he was given reason why hundreds of millions in security aid to Ukraine had been frozen.
Sandy said the officials resigned in September. One held a ‘dissenting opinion’ on security aid to the country, which is contending with an armed conflict with Russia. The other expressed ‘frustration’ about why millions in federal aid were held up, Sandy testified.
The officials have not been identified and it’s not clear how senior the officials were.
President Trump has cited a desire to get Europe to do more as a reason to withhold the aid, which was appropriated by Congress
Mark Sandy, a career employee in the White House Office of Management and Budget, arrives at the Capitol to testify in the House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry about President Donald Trump’s effort to tie military aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents on November 16
The withholding of military aid is at the center of the House Democrat’s investigation into whether the president should be removed from the White House after allegedly pressuring Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate his political rivals in exchange for the funding.
Sandy told the inquiry that he questioned why the aid was held up in July, but he never got an ‘explicit response’. By early August, an OMB memo recommended lifting the hold as a way to boost U.S. national security and oppose Russian aggression against Ukraine.
It was only in early September when he got an answer.
‘I recall in early September an email that attributed the hold to the President’s concern about other countries not contributing more to Ukraine,’ Sandy testified, referencing an email from OMB official Michael Duffey. At the time the president requested information on how much other countries contributed to Ukraine.
Sandy said he didn’t recall another instance of security aid being held up without knowing the reason.
Trump, pictured with President Volodymyr Zelensky, cited a desire to find out how much other countries were contributing to Ukraine as a reason for the aid being withheld
Acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney told reporters in October that the aid was held up in part to get an investigation of a conspiracy theory that Ukraine may have the hacked Democratic server from 2016. He later tried to clean up the remarks
President Trump has cited a desire to get Europe to do more as a reason to withhold the aid, which was appropriated by Congress. However in total, European nations give more to Ukraine than does the U.S.
Acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney told reporters in October that the aid was held up in part to get an investigation of a conspiracy theory that Ukraine may have the hacked Democratic server from 2016. He later tried to clean up the remarks, and admitted he didn’t give a ‘perfect press conference.’
‘Did [Trump] also mention to me in the past the corruption related to the DNC server?’ Mulvaney said. ‘Absolutely, no question about that. But that’s it, and that’s why we held up the money.’
In his own testimony, ambassador to the EU testified there was a ‘quid pro quo’ related to a White House meeting being sought by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and investigations of Ukrainian energy firm Burisma, which had Hunter Biden on its board.
Republicans opposing the Democratic impeachment effort were hoping Sandy, a career official, would provide information to counter Democratic arguments that the hold on aid had a nefarious purpose.
Tweeted New York Rep. Lee Zeldin: ‘The transcript for OMB’s Mark Sandy was just released. The ONLY reason he was ever given why there was a hold on $ to Ukraine was ‘the President’s concern about other countries not contributing more to Ukraine.’ NOT bribery. NOT quid pro quo or any other WACKY Schiff conspiracy!’
President Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. retweeted the missive.
Donald Trump Jr. retweeted New York Rep. Lee Zeldin’s missive that Sandy’s testimony showed aid was not on hold for nefarious reasons
Zeldin also praised Sandy as a ‘dedicated’ public servant – in a tweet that was again retweeted by Donald Trump Jr.
The new testimony was released on a day when the president said he would ‘love’ for top officials like Mulvaney to testify. The House Intel panel also released a deposition transcript for Philip Reeker, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, who testified about a script that was provided to Zelensky in an effort to get the aid released. He testified Gordon Sondland was working on the effort.
‘I recall that he was he was working with Zelensky to – to work, you know, as he prepared for phone calls and engagement with the President toward this meeting, he had sort of a script,’ Reeker testified.
‘That’s how he described it. I don’t know the specifics of what he meant by that, but he described it as a script for Volodymyr to help him as we move forward in this.’
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Chair of the House Intelligence committee, makes his concluding remarks as he closes the impeachment inquiry on November 21
He was asked if the script was for Zelensky to use in his phone call with the president.
‘Again, I couldn’t say that that was specifically to that, or more broadly, as a script for Zelensky. Here is our script moving forward. You know, Gordon [Sondland] was very involved working directly with Zelensky to try to move forward on all of the things that we had – they had discussed after the meeting of the 23rd of May,’ he said.
Sondland testified about the push to get Zelensky to make a public statement on investigations of Burisma and ‘2016.’
The House Judiciary Committee announced it will hold an impeachment hearing in early December.