Internal emails reportedly reveal how the White House had to come up with a legal justification for delaying the congressionally-approved military aid to Ukraine after President Donald Trump had frozen the funds in July.
Several unnamed sources told the Washington Post on Sunday that White House lawyers have reviewed relevant documents regarding the frozen aid, including email exchanges between acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and acting Office of Management and Budget Director Russell Vought in August.
The emails show that Mulvaney had asked Vought for an update on the official explanation for the frozen aid several days after White House lawyers were alerted to a whistleblower’s complaint about Trump’s call with Ukraine, according to the anonymous sources.
The sources also told the Post that Vought told skeptical State Department officials and National Security Council members in the emails that the aid delay was legal.
OMB spokesperson Rachel Semmel told the Post that “routine practices and procedures” were followed, “not scrambling.”
“There was a legal consensus at every step of the way that the money could be withheld to conduct the policy review,” she said. “OMB works closely with agencies on executing the budget.”
Mulvaney has emerged as a key figure in Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky into investigating Trump’s political enemies.