DoD Forced Hold on U.S. Military Aid to Ukraine

On June 18th the Department of Defense (DoD) put out a public announcement—they were releasing the $250 million in Defense Department funds allocated for military aid to the Ukrainian government.

The Under Secretary of Defense, John C. Rood, in a letter sent in May of 2019, to the U.S. Congress, stated in the opinion of DoD the Ukraine had fulfilled the requirements associated with the $250 million in Defense Department funding under the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act of 2019), therefore, he was authorizing the release of those funds.

On June 21, 2019, the State Department followed suit, notifying the OMB (Office of Management and Budget) they were releasing the $141 million in State Department funds from the Consolidated Appropriations Act earmarked for the Ukrainian security and assistance program.

According to the Whistleblower complaint, on July 18th an OMB official had informed Departments and Agencies that President Trump had suspended the $391 million in U.S. security assistance to the Ukraine.

What the DoD and State Department officials did was to force Donald Trump’s hand.

Both State and the DoD had rubber stamped the allocation of U.S. military aid without fulfilling their fiduciary responsibilities to guarantee the Ukrainian government had fulfilled the wishes of Congress in regard to the NDAA 2019.

NDAA 2019

The Government of Ukraine has taken substantial actions to make defense institutional reforms, in such areas as civilian control of the military, cooperation and coordination with the Ukrainian legislature’s efforts to exercise oversight of the Ministry of Defense and military forces, increased transparency and accountability in defense procurement, and improvement in transparency, accountability, and potential opportunities for privatization in the defense industrial sector, for purposes of decreasing corruption, increasing accountability, and sustaining improvements of combat capability.

Note: Both the NDAA 2019 and Consolidation Appropriations Act had to satisfy the above clause.

U.S. aid has been a bone of contention for President Trump.

This came out in the House impeachment inquiry—where the issue was raised to several witnesses regarding the new mandate ordered by President Trump for greater scrutiny of the allocation of U.S. aid.

This was not a new mandate specific to the Ukraine; but rather, it was to be applied across the board. 

The question: Did State and the DoD fulfill the wishes of Congress?

How could they—there wasn’t a viable government in place in the Ukraine.

How could State and the DoD have confidence in a non-existent entity—they couldn’t—neither could President Trump.

Ukrainian parliamentary elections weren’t to take place until July 21st and any new Parliament wouldn’t be seated until mid-August.

In effect, there was no Ukrainian government until the middle of August 2019.

What did the DoD and State Department officials base their assessments on regarding the fulfillment of the NDAA 2019?

On the past?

NDAA 2019 is based on future assurances—not past actions.

The U.S. Congress could have omitted the clause above—they chose not to.

 So President Trump did the only thing he could—direct the OMB to place a hold on all Ukrainian security and assistance until further notice.

Until there was a viable Ukrainian legislature—that could demonstrate they met the demands of Congress and the NDAA of 2019—no aid could or should have been allocated, regardless of Mr. Trump’s personal wishes.

More important, the actions of President Trump took place well before the now famous phone conversation between Messrs. Zelsenskyy and Trump.

Ultimately, the Presidential phone conversation was not causal to the hold being placed on the Ukrainian aid.

In addition, it was detailed by the Whistleblower: the hold order was placed on July 18th or earlier.

Perhaps more compelling, everything disclosed in this article was public record at the time of the Whistleblower’s complaint and certainly by the time of the House impeachment inquiry.

Yet, President Trump must face a Senate trial—for basically doing his job.

Something the DoD and State Department officials failed to do.