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2 OMB officials resigned in disgust over Trump freezing Ukraine aid

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  • Two officials with the White House Office of Management and Budget resigned “at least in part” over their frustration with President Donald Trump’s move to freeze millions in military aid to Ukraine.
  • Mark Sandy, a career OMB official, testified on the resignations to House impeachment investigators behind closed doors on November 16. 
  • One of the officials worked in the OMB’s legal division and left “at least in part because of their concerns or frustrations about the hold on Ukraine security assistance,” Sandy said. 
  • The other OMB official, who was not in the legal division and resigned in September, “expressed some frustrations about not understanding the reason for the hold.” 
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President Donald Trump’s decision to withhold roughly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine directly contributed to the resignations of two White House Office of Management and Budget officials, according to the testimony of Mark Sandy, which was released by House impeachment investigators on Tuesday.

Sandy, a career OMB official, testified to the House Intelligence Committee behind closed doors on November 16. 

Both of the officials who left OMB were unnamed, but Sandy said one worked in OMB’s legal office. 

Sandy was asked if the official who worked in the legal office left “at least in part because of their concerns or frustrations about the hold on Ukraine security assistance.”

He replied: “Yes, in terms of that process, in part.” Sandy later added: “I never want to attribute that as the, you know, sole purpose for an individual’s actions, but I am aware of their frustrations in that area, yes.”

The legal official official expressed concerns about the Impoundment Control Act, a law that sets limits or restrictions on when a president can defer congressionally-approved spending funds, according to Sandy’s testimony. 

Sandy said this official had a “dissenting opinion” regarding the freeze on the aid to Ukraine in relation to this law. 

The other OMB official, who was not in the legal division and resigned in September, “expressed some frustrations about not understanding the reason for the hold.”

Trump has offered inconsistent and dubious reasons for withholding the aid, ranging from alleged concerns over corruption to consternation over European countries not providing more assistance to Ukraine.

The impeachment inquiry was born from a whistleblower complaint that zeroed in on a July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The complaint accuses Trump of abusing the power of his office to solicit foreign interference in the 2020 election. During the call, Trump urged Zelensky to open investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, as well as a bogus conspiracy theory on the 2016 election. 

Trump moved to freeze the military aid to Ukraine before the call, and there’s evidence Ukraine knew about the hold on the assistance at the time. 

Testimony from multiple witnesses suggests Trump was far more concerned with personally benefiting from the requested investigations than rooting out corruption in Ukraine. The president’s suggestion European countries have not put up money to assist Ukraine is also highly misleading and not supported by the facts. Since 2014, for example, the European Union and European financial institutions have contributed over $16.4 billion in grants and loans to Ukraine.

The military aid to Ukraine was released on September 11, less than a week after three House committees launched investigations into Trump’s dealings with the former Soviet republic. 

As Sandy’s testimony was released on Tuesday, a New York Times report also surfaced suggesting Trump knew about the whistleblower complaint before unfreezing the aid. White House lawyers approached Trump about the complaint in late August, according to the report, which raises more questions about the president’s motivations for releasing the aid. 

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