10/1/2019 12:42:00 PM Ukraine pres: No one told him why aid was delayed
WASHINGTON (AP) — Ukraine’s president says no one explained to him why U.S. military aid to his country was delayed.
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy told reporters today that he stressed the importance of the military aid repeatedly in discussions with President Donald Trump, but “it wasn’t explained to me” why the money didn’t come through until September.
The Office of Management and Budget staff said the $250 million in funding had been delayed because Trump was consulting with his national security team about it.
While delaying the aid, Trump asked the Ukrainian leader in a July phone call to “look into” his Democratic rival Joe Biden.
Zelenskiy insisted today that “it is impossible to put pressure on me.” He also said he has never met or spoken with Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who has pushed for an investigation into Biden’s son Hunter, who was on the board of a Ukrainian gas company.
In the meantime, Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley says the whistleblower who filed a complaint about President Donald Trump’s dealings with Ukraine “ought to be heard out and protected” and his or her requests for confidentiality should be respected.
Trump said Monday that “we’re trying to find out” the whistleblower’s identity even though the person is protected by the Whistleblower Protection Act.
Some Republicans have criticized the whistleblower for relying in part on information from White House aides. Grassley says such second-hand information “should not be rejected out of hand.”
Grassley says “no one should be making judgments or pronouncements without hearing from the whistleblower first and carefully following up on the facts.”
The Iowa senator is a longtime advocate for whistleblowers and the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says in a letter to the House Foreign Affairs Committee that Democrats are trying to “intimidate” and “bully” State Department employees and that depositions scheduled by the panel are “not feasible.”
Three House committees have scheduled depositions with five current and former State Department officials over the next two weeks, including former ambassador to Ukraine Marie “Masha” Yovanovitch and Kurt Volker, the Ukrainian envoy who resigned last week.
The chairmen of the House Foreign Affairs, Intelligence and Oversight committees set an Oct. 4 deadline for Pompeo to produce documents related to their investigation of President Donald Trump’s interactions with Ukraine. The probes are part of an impeachment inquiry.
House Democrats are moving aggressively against Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani as part of their impeachment inquiry.
Giuliani has been at the heart of President Donald Trump’s efforts to get Ukraine to investigate political rival Joe Biden’s family.