A new article in The Washington Post depicts a desperate White House staff attempting to pick up the pieces after President Donald Trump abruptly ordered $400 million in military aid for Ukraine to be halted while he and his closest associates were pressuring the country to produce dirt on the Bidens and Democrats in general. According to the report, the office of White House counsel Pat Cipollone has conducted an internal review of relevant communications and found records of officials like acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) official Russ Vought trying to figure out how the aid hold would be legal after Trump had already ordered it.
The publication explains:
‘A confidential White House review of President Trump’s decision to place a hold on military aid to Ukraine has turned up hundreds of documents that reveal extensive efforts to generate an after-the-fact justification for the decision and a debate over whether the delay was legal, according to three people familiar with the records.’
Many of the communications unfolded in August of this year, and the Post notes that “Trump had made the decision the prior month without an assessment of the reasoning or legal justification, according to two White House officials.” The conclusion of OMB legal counsel was that the hold could be legal as long as officials characterized it as temporary, although officials at the State Department and National Security Council (NSC) who were no doubt concerned with a bit more than Trump’s personal political whims were still reportedly concerned anyway.
For her part, OMB spokeswoman Rachel K. Semmel “characterized the conversations as calm, routine and focused on” routine legal questions, but to be clear, she’s expecting us to take her word for it when the Trump administration has publicly pushed untold numbers of demonstrable lies, and at the same time, we all can see the “scrambling” that the president himself engages in on a daily basis. In this case, the aid process was taken over by political officials, as the OMB’s Mark Sandy told Congress in impeachment inquiry testimony that he delivered just recently.
The aid in question was eventually released just a couple days after House Democrats announced an investigation into a whistleblower complaint that turned out to be revealing Trump’s quid pro quo scheme targeting Ukraine. Trump and his allies would like us to think that the timing is just a coincidence and not a desperate attempt to quickly come up with some kind of alibi.
They’ve been largely unable to come up with any better defense. Instead, they’ve stuck to railing on Twitter. To be clear, House Democrats have passed hundreds of bills that Senate Republicans have ignored, but on Sunday, Trump tweeted anyway:
‘Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff, AOC and the rest of the Democrats are not getting important legislation done, hence, the Do Nothing Democrats. USMCA, National Defense Authorization Act, Gun Safety, Prescription Drug Prices, & Infrastructure are dead in the water because of the Dems!’