DOD official was worried Ukraine funds were being 'held without explanation'

By Tony Bertuca / November 11, 2019 at 7:34 PM

House impeachment investigators today released the testimony of Laura Cooper, the Pentagon official who oversees policy on Ukraine.

Cooper, who spoke to investigators Oct. 23, said she and other officials were concerned over the summer about a White House order to withhold military aid to Ukraine.

"DOD was concerned about the obligation of funds," she told investigators. "Policy, my team, we were also concerned about any signal that we would send to Ukraine about a wavering in our commitment. And that's another reason why, I mean, we did not want for this to be a big public discussion, you know, if we were about to get it turned back on again because we didn't want to signal any lack of support."

Cooper told investigators she first learned in July that the funds were being "held without explanation" by the White House, which she said was "unusual."

House impeachment investigators say they are looking into allegations that President Trump withheld nearly $400 million of aid to pressure the Ukrainian government to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a leading contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

Trump says he did nothing wrong and his GOP allies in Congress say the president was justified in withholding the funds because of concerns about corruption in Ukraine.

But Cooper testified that, from DOD's perspective, Ukraine had met all necessary anti-corruption benchmarks necessary to release the funds, contradicting the White House's assertions.

"My sense is that all of the senior leaders of the U.S. national security departments and agencies were all unified . . . in their view that this assistance was essential, that we could work with the government of Ukraine to tackle corruption, and they were trying to find ways to engage the president on this," she said.