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Defense Official Said to Inform Congress on Ukraine Aid: Testimony

Laura Cooper told House panel she suggested legal ways to block the money
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 11, 2019 6:30 PM CST
Laura Cooper, deputy assistant secretary of defense, arrives to review her testimony last week.   (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

(Newser) – Transcripts of House testimony released Monday showed that Defense officials immediately questioned the legality of President Trump putting a hold on military aid to the Ukraine. Laura Cooper, who oversaw Ukraine policy for the Pentagon, said acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney told a meeting that Trump had concerns about the aid, NBC reports. "Well, I'm not an expert on the law," Cooper testified, "but in that meeting immediately deputies began to raise concerns about how this could be done in a legal fashion." Cooper said she told the next meeting in late July that there were legal ways Trump could block the funding, but that Congress—which had allocated the $400 million specifically for Ukraine—would have to be notified. "That did not occur," Cooper said.

In all, the closed-door testimony of three witnesses was released Monday, and Trump tweeted without evidence that Rep. Adam Schiff was fabricating the transcripts, per the Washington Post. Cooper said the potential holdup on the aid caused widespread confusion, and aides asked for more information. "We did not get clarification,” she said, per the Wall Street Journal. On Aug. 20, Kurt Volker, the envoy to Ukraine, told Cooper that Ukraine would not receive the money unless the government publicly promised to carry out the investigations Trump wanted. The aid eventually was released, on Sept. 11. (Cooper's testimony was delayed when GOP lawmakers stormed the hearing.)

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