The news media and Democrats are quickly seizing on a government email to paint a misleading picture that the Trump administration requested the Pentagon withhold military aid to Ukraine just 91 minutes after President Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
The decision to withhold aid was actually announced seven days prior to Trump’s July 25 phone call while the email in question was part of a weeklong discussion about withholding aid and was unrelated to the call, the Trump administration explained.
The email was obtained on Friday along with 146 pages of other documents given to the Center for Public Integrity (CPI) as part of a Freedom of Information Act request.
CPI has been openly funded by billionaire activist George Soros’s Open Society, which formally listed CPI as a media “partner.” CPI is also funded by the Soros-financed Tides Foundation.
The email being hyped by the media shows an official with the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Mike Duffey, contacted Pentagon officials 91 minutes after Trump’s call with Zelensky to discuss withholding aid.
“Based on guidance I have received and in light of the Administration’s plan to review assistance to Ukraine, including the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, please hold off on any additional DoD obligations of these funds, pending direction from that process,” Duffey wrote, according to the documents.
The OMB immediately pushed back explaining the aid hold was announced seven says before Trump’s July 25 phone call and that the Center for Public Integrity was harping on one line to paint an inaccurate and misleading picture of the timing of the aid hold.
The OMB strongly denied the email, one of many, had anything to do with Trump’s phone call, explaining the communication was procedural and part of a process put into place one week early.
Rachel Semmel, a spokeswoman for OMB, told reporters it was “reckless to tie the hold of funds to the phone call.”
“As has been established and publicly reported, the hold was announced in an interagency meeting on July 18,” she said. “To pull a line out of one email and fail to address the context is misleading and inaccurate.”
A senior administration official further said the email was part of a discussion already going on for one week between OMB and the Pentagon about withholding aid.
Despite the known timeline that the decision to withhold aid was taken on July 18, Senator Chuck Schumer already claimed the “explosive” email underscored the need to call new witnesses with new alleged impeachment evidence.
“If there was ever an argument that we need Mr Duffey to come and testify, this is that information. This email is explosive,” Schumer said.
“A top administration official, one that we requested, is saying, stop the aid 90 minutes after Trump called Zelensky and said keep it hush, hush. What more do you need to request a witness?”
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.