Speed Reads

Trump impeachment trial

Mitt Romney asks impeachment lawyers exactly when and why Trump froze Ukraine military aid

While questioning House impeachment managers and President Trump's lawyers on Wednesday night, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) posed a query: "On what specific date did President Trump first order the hold on security assistance to Ukraine, and did he explain the reason at that time?"

Romney is one of the handful of Republicans who might vote to allow additional witnesses in the impeachment trial.

Last year, Trump froze $391 million in military aid to Ukraine. The impeachment managers argue Trump abused his power by withholding the aid to pressure Ukraine into launching an investigation into a political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden. Former National Security Adviser John Bolton reportedly confirms this in his forthcoming book.

One of Trump's lawyers, Patrick Philbin, responded to Romney, "I don't think there is evidence in the record of a specific date." He went on to say that in late June, Trump began asking how much money other NATO members spent to help Ukraine, and insisted Trump was concerned about corruption in the country. "So the evidence in the record shows that the president raised concerns, at least as of June 24th, that people were aware of the hold as of July 3rd," Philbin said.

There is testimony in the record showing that Office of Management and Budget officials knew of a hold on the aid as early as July 3, The New York Times notes. Later that month, on July 25, Trump spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and asked him to "do us a favor" and investigate Biden.