Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale confirmed Wednesday evening at the House Intelligence Committee that aid to Lebanon was held up at the same time, and in the same way, as aid to Ukraine.
Hale testified during the sixth public hearing in the ongoing impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.
Responding to questions from Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX), Hale agreed that President Trump had a general skepticism of foreign aid and wanted to overhaul the way it was handled, as part of his “America First” policy.
He also agreed that delays on aid are not uncommon, and confirmed his earlier testimony that aid to Lebanon had been held up by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in the White House, as had aid to Pakistan and to the “Northern Triangle” countries (El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras) until it was later released. The Lebanon hold remains in effect.
The Pakistan aid was held up because of “unhappiness over the policies and behavior of the Pakistani government toward certain proxy groups that were involved in conflicts with the United States,” Hale said.
Hale also confirmed that when aid was withheld from Lebanon, there was no reason given — just as with Ukraine. Asked whether that was “not uncommon,” Hale said it is “not the normal way that we function,” but that “[I]t does happen.”
Ratcliffe concluded: “The assertion has been made that President Trump’s Ukraine policy changed when there was a pause in the aid, or the aid was withheld. Is that an accurate statement?”
Hale said: “That was not the way I understood things to be happening at the time — we were not given an explanation.”
He confirmed that U.S. policy toward Ukraine was “very robust” because of Trump’s decision to provide lethal weapons to Ukraine.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.