At least a week before his July 25 phone call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, President Trump told acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney to hold back nearly $400 million in military aid for Ukraine, three senior administration officials told The Washington Post on Monday.
Trump reportedly used the phone call to pressure Zelensky into investigating Hunter Biden, the son of 2020 presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden. Trump admitted to making the phone call and discussing Hunter Biden, but claimed there was nothing inappropriate about the conversation.
Trump's order was passed along to the State Department and Pentagon during a meeting in mid-July, the Post reports, with White House officials telling them it was due to "concerns" Trump had about whether the money really needed to be spent. Administration officials were then told to tell lawmakers this was part of the normal "interagency process," the Post reports. The money was released by the White House almost two months later on Sept. 11, and the next day, Republicans on the Senate Appropriation Committee said the administration had been trying to determine whether Zelensky was pro-Russia. One senior White House official told the Post that Trump decided to hold back the money in June because there is "a lot of corruption in Ukraine" and it "had nothing to do with quid pro quo."
A whistleblower complaint was filed in August by a member of the intelligence community, who was said to have been concerned over Trump's communication with a foreign leader. The Post's report adds fuel to the fire that Trump tried to leverage the aid, which had been approved by Congress, in order to hurt his political rival. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Ct.) on Monday said he met with Zelensky earlier this month while in Ukraine, and he "directly" shared his concerns that the aid was "being cut off to Ukraine by the president" as a "consequence" of his failure to open an investigation into the Bidens. Read the entire report at The Washington Post.