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Report: Trump Froze Military Aid Days Before Ukraine Call

Trump denies there was any link to demand to investigate Bidens
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 24, 2019 4:51 AM CDT
Updated Sep 24, 2019 6:41 AM CDT
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President Trump speaks during a meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan at the InterContinental Barclay hotel during the United Nations General Assembly, Monday, Sept. 23, 2019, in New York.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
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(Newser) – In what Democrats are calling potential "extortion," President Trump froze almost $400 million in military aid to Ukraine days before a phone call to the country's president that sparked a whistleblower complaint, insiders tell the Washington Post. The sources say Trump personally ordered acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to withhold the funds, and worried Defense and State Department officials were told only that Trump had concerns about corruption and wanted to make sure that the spending was necessary. The funds, which were approved by Congress, were finally released on Sept. 11 after pressure from GOP lawmakers, the New York Times reports. Trump allegedly pressured Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter during the July 25 call.

Democrats say the timing of the freeze on aid is extremely suspicious, though the White House and one of the Post's sources deny there was a "quid pro quo." A source tells the AP that the intelligence official who filed the complaint did not have firsthand knowledge of the call. "I did not make a statement that you have to do this or I'm not gonna give you aid. I wouldn't do that," Trump said Monday, per Politico. He said he hoped the media would "get to see the call," but soon afterward said he didn't want the transcript released because it would set a "bad precedent." As some Democrats called for impeachment, GOP Sen. Mitt Romney called for the release of the transcript, saying it would be "very helpful" in determining whether the allegations "will have consequence," CNN reports. Trump later tweeted a compilation of clips from news coverage of Romney's 2012 election loss and his own win in 2016. (Read more President Trump stories.)

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