Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russian, Ukrainian and Eurasian Affairs, Laura Cooper was brought before the House impeachment inquiry to support one of Adam Schiff’s main arguments—President Trump’s rash action demanding the OMB (Office of Management and Budget) put a hold on the Ukrainian Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) funding put America’s national security at risk.
The focus of this article is not to entertain whether the Ukraine represents a matter of national security or humanitarianism. At question: What can we learn from Ms. Cooper’s presence in the House impeachment inquiry?
For Adam Schiff, in his singleminded pursuit to label President Trump’s actions as harmful to national security, he may have inadvertently provided Republicans with all the evidence they needed to prove Donald Trump was actually innocent of any wrong doing.
Unfortunately for Mr. Trump, Mr. Schiff’s blunder was never discovered or leveraged.
It is worth noting, this is not an issue of exculpatory evidence withheld from Republicans and the public by Adam Schiff—the evidence was in full view for everyone and anyone to see.
It must be stated, Mr. Schiff didn’t go out of his way to point out to Republican lawmakers the evidence that could sink his case was in plain sight.
Instead, the Intelligence Committee Chair did everything in his power to interrupt the cross examination of Ms. Cooper, prohibiting one of the House Republican’s most effective members, Elise Stefanik, from being given more time to pursue her questioning of Ms. Cooper.
It is important to point out Laura Cooper is a civil servant—she was merely doing her job. There was no evidence her testimony was partisan or an effort to damage the President.
Did Mr. Schiff know his case was vulnerable if House Republicans had some how stumbled onto the fact the entire USAI funding snafu had been due to procurement? (See article: Procurement at the Heart of Everything)
We don’t know.
If it can be proven Mr. Schiff knew the issue of procurement could have proven President Trump’s innocence and actively interfered to prevent that knowledge from surfacing then Mr. Schiff could find himself in hot water.
What was the key piece of evidence?
In her lengthy opening statement, Ms. Cooper laid out the case that the delay by the OMB in releasing the funding associated with the USAI put the military aid to the Ukraine at risk.
The initial assessment by her group determined due to the delay only 80% of the allocated funds would be able to be converted into military contracts for supplies and armaments.
Ultimately, Ms. Cooper went on to confirm her group was able to get 100% conversion.
However, this did not obviate the doubt within her group, due to the delay, they didn’t know whether they would be able to convert all the funds in to actual contracts to buy the military equipment and armaments designated for the Ukraine.
This was Adam Schiff’s entire reasoning for having Laura Cooper brought in to be part of his impeachment inquiry—to make the point national security had been put a risk due to President Trump’s actions.
But Ms. Cooper’s testimony represents a double-edge sword.
On the one hand, the argument could be made as Mr. Schiff was attempting to make, a delay in the release of the USAI funding put the Ukrainian aid at risk and therefore jeopardized national security.
On the other hand, President Trump could and still can make the case procurement drove the actions of the DoD and State Department.
Remember, the DoD and State Department submitted certification that the Ukrainian government fulfilled the requirements of the USAI, even though their submittal came in mid-June 2019 less than a month after President Zelenskyy had dissolved the Ukrainian parliament and a new parliament would not take effect until late August.
In effect, due to conditions on the ground in the Ukraine, the requirements placed on the USAI could not be met by the Ukrainian government and by extension the DoD and State Department. Yet, this did not deter the DoD and State Department from requesting the release of the USAI funding by the OMB in mid-June.
This is the importance of Ms. Cooper.
Her testimony explains why the DoD and State Department unlawfully submitted false documentation to the OMB—it was all driven by the need to procure the necessary contracts to purchase the military aid designated for the Ukraine.
It represents causality.
More to the point, it represents that the actions of the DoD and State Department were unlawful; and therefore, the President acted lawfully when he ordered the OMB to prevent the release of the funds associated with the USAI until the requirements imposed by Congress could be met, which would not be possible until sometime after the new Ukrainian parliament was officially installed.
This is the evidence of innocence Adam Schiff inadvertently provided President Trump.