The Department of Defense said on Thursday that its officials, including Defense Secretary Mark Esper, were not present during President Donald Trump’s call with the Ukrainian president.
“To my knowledge, no one from the Department of Defense was on that call,” Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman told reporters, per the Hill. “I specifically asked the secretary of Defense that question, and he was not on that call.”
“The secretary has an incredibly busy schedule and is working on a number of different issues at any one time,” the spokesman added. “He doesn’t spend most of his days sitting in on other people’s phone calls.”
According to the White House’s version of Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Trump pressed the Ukrainian leader to dig up fabricated dirt on his political rival Joe Biden. When the Ukrainian president mentioned missile defense, Trump responded that he wanted the foreign leader to do him a “favor.”
The DOD spokesman also said the department’s general counsel has ordered Pentagon staffers to provide the Office of General Counsel all documents on Trump’s decision to withhold military aid to Ukraine around the time of the call.
“To me, it seems to be a fairly routine but proactive measure we’re taking,” he said.
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