Pentagon’s Letter About Ukraine Torpedoes Trump’s Excuse For Withholding Aid

President Donald Trump attends a press conference on the census in the Rose Garden of the White House on July 11, 2019. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
September 25, 2019 7:24 p.m.

A newly uncovered letter from the Pentagon debunks one of President Donald Trump’s excuses for delaying aid to Ukraine in late July.

On Monday, Trump suggested he had withheld the aid to Ukraine only because he wanted to make sure the funds weren’t going to a corrupt government.

“If you don’t talk about corruption, why would you give money to a country that you think is corrupt?” Trump said.

But a letter from the Defense Department sent to Congress in May, first obtained by NPR, shows that the Pentagon had “certified” that Ukraine had taken sufficient measures to combat corruption and was therefore was eligible for aid–before Trump’s call.

“On behalf of the Secretary of Defense, and in coordination with the Secretary of State, I have certified that the Government of Ukraine has taken substantial actions to make defense institutional reforms for the purposes of decreasing corruption, increasing accountability, and sustaining improvements of combat capability enabled by U.S. assistance,” wrote John Rood, the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy.

On Tuesday, Trump had changed his excuse for delaying the aid, telling reporters he had done so because he wanted “other countries to put up money.”

Read the letter below:

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