Several prominent Senate Democrats asked the Defense Department inspector general to investigate the White House withholding congressionally approved military aid from Ukraine. The funding has become a key element of the saga unfolding around President Trump’s call with the president of Ukraine and a whistleblower complaint detailing Trump’s efforts to get the foreign leader to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden.
In a letter sent Wednesday evening, Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Jack Reed (D-RI), Tom Udall (D-NM), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Patty Murray (D-WA) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) requested information about why the funding was withheld and if Pentagon officials knew the hold was connected to a “political consideration.”
“According to press reports, these delays appear to be occasioned by the President’s desire to pressure Ukraine into working with his personal attorney to investigate a potential political opponent and his family,” the senators wrote, outlining a request for answers to a series of questions about how the funding halt came about and whether anyone in the Defense Department reported concern about the matter.
Just one week before his now-infamous call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Trump directed his aides to temporarily withhold funding from the country. Trump has claimed that he withheld the hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid due to “corruption” and an interest in forcing other countries to help fund Ukraine’s military defense. However, it’s believed that Trump used the congressionally approved aid as leverage to pressure Zelensky into investigating Biden, one of his main political rivals.
A memo on the call was released by the White House on Wednesday, which revealed Trump asked for his “favor” just after Zelensky broached the subject of receiving more of a certain type of military defense weapons.
Read the letter below:
I’m calling on the DoD OIG to investigate the withholding of Ukraine military aid appropriated by Congress, allegedly at the direction of the White House. The delay raises questions about whether DoD officials were involved in any scheme to target a political opponent. pic.twitter.com/taGRQ2Olil
— Senator Dick Durbin (@SenatorDurbin) September 26, 2019