The Truth Behind The Hold

The Ukrainian government was in flux.

Ukrainian Presidential elections were under way—the first round of voting was held on March 21st, to be followed by a run-off a month later.

Ultimately, the sitting President, Petro Poroshenko, was voted out of office, to be replaced by a former actor and comedian Volodymry Zelenskyy.

One of the first acts of the newly elected President was to dissolve the Ukrainian Parliament—calling for elections to take place on July 21st.

This is where the saga of quid pro quo begins.

In two separate pieces of legislation, the National Defense Authorization Act of 2019 and the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2019, the U.S. Congress had created the $391 million Ukrainian Security Assistance Initiative (USAI), which included, for the first time, lethal U.S. military armaments.

To ensure the sophisticated armaments would not potentially find their way onto the black market, the U.S.  Congress placed stipulations on the Ukrainian aid. Specifically, the controlling agencies (DoD, State Department) would have to certify the Ukrainian legislature was working to address corruption within their country.

Note: The Ukraine is one of the poorer nations. This condition makes it rife for abuse and corruption. Therefore, Congress was prudent in demanding the certification of oversight of the Ukrainian ministries by the civilian government.

The statutory language included in the two pieces of funding legislation demanded the civilian government of the Ukraine had to demonstrate control over the various ministries, including the Defense Ministry, in order to satisfy the release of the $391 million military aid package.

The dilemma, effectively from March until late August there was no viable Ukrainian civilian government.

Yet in mid-June (June 18th, June 21st respectively), a month prior to the Ukrainian parliamentary elections, the DoD and State Department sent notification to the OMB they were requesting the release the funds under their control: $250 million and $141 million respectively.

The DoD and State Department were in non-compliance with the law.

There was no means to satisfy the certification demanded by Congress because there was no viable Ukrainian civilian government in place at the time the DoD and State Department made their decisions.

Just as important—the announcements came in the middle of Ukrainian parliamentary elections.

These announcements could be, at the very least, construed as trying to influence the outcome of the Ukrainian parliamentary results—another reason to place a stop on the aid.

Given the timing and lack of compliance with U.S. law, President Trump had the OMB place a hold on the military aid package.

This hold came sometime prior to July 18th, as detailed in the whistleblower’s complaint.

The now infamous phone conversation with President Zelenskyy would not take place until, at minimum, 7 days after the hold had been placed on the aid package.

More important: President Trump had no control of the military aid as long as the release was in compliance with U.S. law.

Given the facts, the phone conversation was immaterial.

What was said or asked for in the July 25th phone conversation had no bearing on the hold and eventual release of the $391 million in military aid.

This was strictly a compliance issue.