A senior Pentagon official detailed confusion and concern in the U.S. national security apparatus after the White House blocked aid to Ukraine without explanation, according to testimony released on Monday by the congressional impeachment panel into U.S. President Donald Trump.
Testimony by Laura Cooper, deputy assistant secretary of defense, was the latest to be made public that showed the internal machinations of the administration as Trump insisted that nearly $400 million in aid slated for Ukraine be withheld until its president publicly launch an investigation into one of Trump’s top political rivals.
Also on Monday, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney withdrew a motion to join a lawsuit seeking to have a judge settle whether he can be compelled by Congress to testify in the inquiry. Instead, Mulvaney will file his own lawsuit.
The congressional panel also released testimony on Monday from Catherine Croft and Christopher Anderson, both advisers to Ambassador Kurt Volker on Ukraine policy, who described their concerns about the Trump administration’s Ukraine policy. Volker was Trump’s special representative for Ukraine negotiations until he resigned in September.
The new transcripts come two days before the impeachment inquiry by Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives committees enters a crucial new public phase.
The first on-camera hearings in the investigation are set for later this week and focused on accusations that Trump improperly withheld security money as leverage to pressure Ukraine to investigate political rival Joe Biden.
On Wednesday and Friday, U.S. diplomats William Taylor, George Kent and Marie Yovanovitch are due to the detail in public their concerns, previously expressed in testimony behind closed doors, that Trump and his administration sought to tie the security aid to investigations that might benefit his 2020 re-election bid.
The public testimony before the House Intelligence Committee will be carried by major broadcast and cable television networks and is expected to be viewed by millions of people, as Democrats seek to make the case for Trump’s removal from office.
Trump took to Twitter on Monday to fume again about the investigation. He said he would release this week a transcript of an earlier call he had with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
‘ASSISTANCE WAS ESSENTIAL’
Cooper’s Oct. 23 closed-door testimony became the scene of one of the most explosive moments of the inquiry so far, when about two dozen Republican lawmakers and allies of Trump stormed the secure room where she was speaking. Critics denounced the lawmakers’ actions, saying they had compromised U.S. security by taking phones into the secure room.
In her testimony, Cooper described at some length the approval process for the $391 million in aid to Ukraine, including that the Pentagon had determined that Kiev had met anti-corruption requirements for the release of the funds.
Trump and some of his supporters have argued that the funds – approved by the U.S. Congress to help combat Russia-backed separatists in the eastern part of Ukraine – were blocked by Trump to press Zelenskiy’s government to fight corruption, not to seek an investigation of Biden and his son.
“All of the senior leaders of the U.S. national security departments and agencies were all unified in their – in their view that this assistance was essential,” Cooper said, according to the transcript.
Cooper said the U.S. military was concerned that denying U.S. assistance would make it harder for Kiev to negotiate with Moscow.
“They are trying to negotiate a peace with Russia, and if they are seen as weak, and if they are seen to lack the backing of the United States for their armed forces, it makes it much more difficult for them to negotiate a peace on terms that are good for Ukraine.”
The impeachment investigation began in September after a whistleblower within the U.S. intelligence community brought a complaint against Trump over his July 25 call with Zelenskiy.
Democrats, who control the House, have argued that Trump abused his power in pressing a vulnerable U.S. ally to carry out investigations that would benefit Trump politically. Biden is a leading contender for the Democratic nomination to face the Republican president in the 2020 election. His son Hunter Biden served on the board of a Ukrainian energy company called Burisma.
Trump has denied there was a quid pro quo – or exchanging a favour for a favour – in his dealings with Ukraine. He defended his call with Zelenskiy as “perfect” and branded the probe a politically motivated hoax. Trump wrote on Twitter on Monday that the inquiry should be ended and the unnamed whistleblower, the whistleblower’s lawyer and “Corrupt politician” Schiff should be investigated for fraud.
Democrats consider the open hearings to be crucial to building public support for a vote on articles of impeachment – formal charges – against Trump. If that occurs, the 100-seat Republican-controlled Senate would hold a trial on the charges.
Republicans have so far shown little support for removing Trump from office, which would require two-thirds of senators present to vote to convict him.
106 ADP members defect to PDP in Edo
Following the defection of Gov. Godwin Obaseki of Edo from the ruling APC to the PDP, 106 members of the Action Democratic Party (ADP) have also defected to PDP.
The ADP defectors are from Egor, Ovia South West, and Ovia North East Local Government Areas of Edo.
The Newsmen reports that the defections came as Edo State gets set for a governorship election, described by analysts as a two-horse race between the PDP and APC.
The governorship election is slated for Sept. 19.
Mr. Oshodin Izedomwen, the Organising Secretary of the ADP in Edo, who led the defectors, said on Tuesday in Benin that the defection was part of their belief in the capacity of the PDP.
He recalled that he was a founding member of the PDP and that he left the party because of some persons, whom he described as “strange bedfellows” who came to join the PDP.
Izedomwen said that the other defectors and himself had now returned to the PDP because the “strange bedfellows had since left the party.
“In politics, interest matters because it is always the driving force,” he stated.
and Ovia North East Local Government Areas of Edo.
The Newsmen reports that the defections came as Edo State gets set for a governorship election, described by analysts as a two-horse race between the PDP and APC
Edo 2020: ADP reacts to defection of 106 members to PDP
The Action Democratic Party(APC)says the defection of some of its members to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Edo will not affect the party’s chances in the forthcoming governorship election in the state.
The National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr. Adelaja Adeoye, spoke by telephone with the News Agency of Nigeria on Tuesday.
Newsmen reports that no fewer than 106 ADP members in Egor, Ovia South West, and Ovia North-East local government areas of Edo had defected to the PDP on Tuesday in Benin.
ADP Organising Secretary in the state, Mr. Oshodin Izedomwen, who led the defectors, said that they left for PDP because they believed the party had the capacity to govern the state.
Reacting, Adeoye said there was nothing to worry about the defection as it could not ruffle, let alone shake the solid structure of ADP in Edo.
He added that the exit of the members would not in any way stop the party from doing well or even win the governorship election.
Adeoye described the defectors as “political jobbers” who, instead of behaving like ideological party men, went to PDP for personal gains.
“There is really nothing to worry about the defection; there is no cause for alarm as our party is still firm and solidly on the ground in Edo after all.
“Our party cannot and will not collapse. The defection will not stop our candidate, Mr. Ibio Emmanuel, from doing well and even winning in the election.
“It is unfortunate how people who were supposed to uphold the great ideologies of ADP left the party to pursue personal gains in PDP.
“We wish them luck but we must point out that their exit is like a drop out of the ocean. ADP remains unshaken”, he said.
He said the party had earlier called on Gov. Godwin Obaseki of Edo to join its fold because it believed the governor was not well treated by APC, his former party.
“But the governor chose to join PDP and we have our candidate too.
“Now, all hands are on deck to ensure victory for the party in the election “, he said.
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