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impeachment continues

Trump gave 'clear direction' to hold Ukraine aid, says White House official in uncovered documents

Unredacted documents obtained by Just Security appear to show the Pentagon was concerned by President Trump's decision to withhold military aid to Ukraine.

Defense Department officials worried the move, at the center of Trump's impeachment, would violate requirements that money be spent as allocated by Congress. Trump is accused of leveraging the aid to pressure Ukraine into investigating Democrats for his political benefit.

Michael Duffey, associate director of national security programs at the Office of Management and Budget, told Pentagon officials there was "clear direction from POTUS to continue to hold" the aid when asked in August, though no rationale was explained. Later, when the hold was lifted and Duffey was asked why, he said it was "not exactly clear but president made the decision to go."

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said the revelations that Trump was apparently directly involved in withholding the aid "further expose the serious concerns raised by Trump administration officials about the propriety and legality of the president's decision to cut off aid to Ukraine to benefit himself." Schumer called for further testimony in a Senate impeachment trial, The Washington Post reports.

House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), meanwhile, called the documents "incriminating" and said they "corroborate" testimony from the House impeachment inquiry.