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Trump Knew of Whistleblower Complaint before Releasing Military Aid to Ukraine

President Donald Trump during a campaign rally in Sunrise, Fla., November 26, 2019 (Yuri Gripas/Reuters)

President Trump was made aware of the whistleblower complaint regarding his interactions with Ukraine before he released military aid to the country, the New York Times reported on Tuesday.

The complaint alleged that Trump improperly leveraged U.S. military aid to coerce the opening of politically beneficial investigations during his July 25 phone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky. While the whistleblower did not listen to the call firsthand, the individual was alarmed by what he had learned of the call’s contents and the extra security with which the transcript of the call was stored.

Trump learned of the complaint in late August, and the aid package was released on September 11. On either September 7 or 9, Trump spoke with Gordon Sondland, ambassador to the European Union, and told him there was no “quid pro quo” with regard to the aid.

At the time, lawyers for the administration were attempting to determine whether the White House was required to reveal the complaint to Congress. While Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson concluded that the complaint needed to be sent to Congress, White House counsel Pat A. Cipollone and his deputy John A. Eisenberg claimed the administration did not need to reveal the complaint due to executive privilege.

In testimony released on Tuesday, Office of Management and Budget staffer Mark Sandy told members of Congress that two OMB staffers resigned partly due to “frustrations about not understanding the reason for the hold” in military aid.

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.

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