Two minutes before midnight Tuesday night, as the Senate was considering whether to subpoena documents and witnesses in President Trump's impeachment trial, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released 192 pages of documents related to the withholding of military aid to Ukraine, complying with a Freedom of Information Act request from American Oversight.
"President Trump's lawyers stood in the Senate on Tuesday arguing that documents are totally unnecessary for the impeachment trial, but these documents give lie to that entire position," said American Oversight executive director Austin Evers. "Despite the Trump administration's obstruction and the rhetoric at the trial, the public can now see even more evidence of the president's corrupt scheme as it unfolded in real time," and just "how much the administration has withheld from the House, the Senate, and the American public."
The documents include emails between OMB associate director Michael Duffey, career OMB official Mark Sandy, and Pentagon officials Katie Wheelbarger and Elaine McCusker, who wrote Duffey he "can't be serious. I'm speechless," after he tried to blame the Pentagon for Trump's Ukraine aid freeze, according to unredacted emails won by another group, Just Security. Senate Republicans rejected motions to subpoena Duffey and OMB documents in the impeachment trial on Tuesday, and the emails released Tuesday night are heavily redacted.
Despite formally resigning in August 2016, Paul Manafort was still advising the Trump campaign three days before the election, Buzzfeed News reports.
Beginning in April, Buzzfeed filed five separate Freedom of Information Act lawsuits in an effort to obtain all the subpoenas and search warrants former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team executed during its investigation into 2016 election interference. The first round of documents were published Saturday, highlighted by emails and other various forms of correspondence that were subject to investigation.
The Manafort revelation came to light in emails exchanged between Manafort, Stephen Bannon, and Jared Kushner. On Nov. 5, 2016, Manafort emailed Kushner, explaining how he was "really feeling good" about President Trump's prospects in the upcoming election, before mentioning he sent a memo to former White House Chief of Staff Reince Preibus, and also briefed Rick Gates and Fox News' Sean Hannity. Kushner then forwarded the email to Bannon, who told Trump's son-in-law that, although Manafort was a "nice guy" they needed to "avoid him like the plague." Bannon's reasoning was that their opponents would say "the Russians worked with wiki leaks to give this victory to us," which happened anyway. Read more at Buzzfeed News. Tim O'Donnell