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Val Demings on Foreign Policy

 

 


Trump withheld $391M in authorized aid to Ukraine.

Demings signed The Trump-Ukraine Impeachment Inquiry Report, pp. 17-18

For 2019, Congress appropriated and authorized $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine: $250 million in funds administered by DOD and $141 million in funds administered by the State Department. On June 18, DOD issued a press release announcing its intention to provide $250 million in taxpayer-funded security assistance to Ukraine following the certification that all legitimate conditions on the aid, including anti-corruption reforms, had been met. Shortly after this announcement, however, both the OMB and DOD received inquiries from the President related to the funds. At that time, and throughout the next few months, support for Ukraine security assistance was overwhelming and unanimous among all of the relevant agencies and within Congress.

By July 25, the date of President Trump's call with President Zelensky, DOD was also receiving inquiries from Ukrainian officials about the status of the security assistance. Nevertheless, President Trump continued to withhold the funding to Ukraine without explanation, against the interests of U.S. national security, and over the objections of these career experts

By early September, President Zelensky was ready to make a public announcement of the two investigations [into Burisma and the Bidens] to secure a White House meeting and the military assistance his country desperately needed. He proceeded to book an interview on CNN during which he could make such an announcement, but other events soon intervened. On September 9, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the Committees on Oversight and Reform, and the Committee on Foreign Affairs announced an investigation into the scheme by President Trump and his personal attorney, Mr. Giuliani "to improperly pressure the Ukrainian government to assist the President's bid for reelection."

On September 11, in the face of growing public and Congressional scrutiny, President Trump lifted the hold on security assistance to Ukraine.

Source: Report of the House Select Committee on Intelligence Impeach3 on Dec 2, 2019

Trump harmed US interest by delaying military aid to Ukraine.

Demings signed House Judiciary Impeachment Report

The [Congressional report on Impeachment] examines the facts underlying the first charge against Pres. Trump: abuse of power. On July 25, 2019, when he spoke by telephone to Pres. Zelensky of Ukraine, Pres.Trump asked Pres. Zelensky to "do us a favor, though." He asked Ukraine to announce two bogus investigations: one into former Vice President Joseph Biden, then his leading opponent in the 2020 election, and another to advance a conspiracy theory that Ukraine, not Russia, attacked our elections in 2016. One investigation was designed to help him gain an advantage in the 2020 election. The other was intended to help Pres. Trump conceal the truth about the 2016 election. Neither investigation was supported by the evidence or premised on any legitimate national security or foreign policy interest. After the call with Pres. Zelensky, Pres. Trump ratcheted up the pressure. He continued to dangle the offer of the Oval Office meeting and to withhold the $391 million in military aid.

To the founding generation, abuse of power was a specific, well-defined offense. It occurs when a President exercises the powers of his office to obtain an improper personal benefit while ignoring the national interest. The evidence shows that Pres. Trump leveraged his office to pressure Ukraine for a personal favor.

This unquestionably constitutes an impeachable offense, but the first article of impeachment also identifies two aggravating factors. When Pres. Trump asked Pres. Zelensky for a favor, he did so at the expense of both our national security--America has a vital national security interest in countering Russian aggression--and our election integrity--American democracy above all rests upon elections that are free and fair. When the President demands that a foreign government announce investigations targeting his domestic political rival, he corrupts our elections. To the Founders, this kind of corruption was especially pernicious, and plainly merited impeachment.

Source: Judiciary Committee Impeachment Report (H.R.755), p. 2-3 ImpeachB on Dec 13, 2019

Illegal for President to withhold aid approved by Congress.

Demings signed the Impeachment Trial Memorandum

President Trump used the vast powers of his office as President to pressure Ukraine into announcing these investigations. President Trump illegally withheld $391 million in taxpayer-funded military assistance to Ukraine that Congress had appropriated for expenditure in fiscal year 2019.

That assistance was a critical part of long-running bipartisan efforts to advance the security interests of the United States by ensuring that Ukraine is properly equipped to defend itself against Russian aggression. Every relevant Executive Branch agency agreed that continued American support for Ukraine was in America's national security interests, but President Trump ignored that view and personally ordered the assistance held back, even after serious concerns--now confirmed by the Government Accountability Office (GAO)--were raised within his Administration about the legality of withholding funding that Congress had already appropriated.

President Trump released the funding only after he got caught trying to use the security assistance as leverage to obtain foreign interference in his reelection campaign. When news of his scheme to withhold the funding broke, and shortly after investigative committees in the House opened an investigation, President Trump relented and released the aid.

Source: Trial Memorandum of the House Impeachment managers, p. 4-5 ImpeachH on Jan 18, 2020

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Page last updated: Jun 19, 2020