KEY POINTS

  • Emails show surprised and upset Pentagon officials
  • Some officials hoped Sec. Esper would convince Trump to end aid hold
  • Incriminating new documents come out as impeachment trial closes

Newly released emails sent among Pentagon staff during July and August reveal a general air of confusion and worry following Trump’s order to withhold military aid intended for Ukraine.

According to a new CNN report, many defense officials were caught off guard by the hold. At the time, a great deal of planning had gone into orchestrating the disbursal of the military aid, but those plans had to be suddenly postponed. Various emails show objections to the unexpected decision from various levels of the Pentagon.

In one case, an official emailed Secretary of Defense Mark Esper about their worries over Trump’s order to hold aid to Ukraine; they also expressed concerns about the order’s effect on national security. They and other officials clearly hoped that Esper would be willing and able to talk Trump into reversing course on the aid freeze, but he didn’t do so until Sept. 11.

Some officials also expressed doubts over the hold being legal.

This week the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump draws to a close. At the center of the impeachment were allegations that Trump had sought to convince Ukraine to open an investigation into Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President Joe Biden.” Trump has argued, in his defense, that nothing he did was illegal and he was merely motivated by a desire to root out political corruption.

These newly released Pentagon emails underscore the suddenness and timing of Trump’s order to halt the aid, reinforcing Democrats’ narrative that the freeze was linked to Trump’s infamous “quid pro quo” July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Even as the impeachment trial draws to a close Wednesday, congressional Democrats are intent on continuing to investigate the Ukraine scandal. Recently, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., said that House Democrats were discussing the possibility of issuing a subpoena for former national security adviser John Bolton to testimony.

Democrats’ consternation only grew when a vote to subpoena witnesses was shot down last week. No doubt the release of these internal Pentagon emails will only serve to further motivate Democrats, who have argued that Senate Republicans prevented a full and thorough trial.

Ukraine tanks Ukrainian army tanks move past a checkpoint as they patrol the area near eastern Ukrainian town of Debaltseve August 3, 2014. Photo: Reuters