On Jan. 22, in the U.S. Senate, Rep. Jason Crow, D-Colorado, testified that by Sept. 5, 2019, the Office of Management and Budget was continuing to hold the U.S. military aid to Ukraine, and this was aid to assist that nation in their fight against the Russians. This is our fight as well, and this policy of aiding Ukraine is consistent with our national security strategy in terms of stabilizing Europe.
By mid August, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman drafted a memo on Ukraine assistance. The memo recommended that the hold be lifted, and the memo was never provided to President Donald Trump. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pressed Trump on releasing the aid to Ukraine, and Trump brushed them off. The Ukrainian government knew about the hold before it was published, and it was inevitable that the story would break regarding the freeze on aid to Ukraine.
U.S. military aid to Ukraine is necessary to provide that country with strength, not only in terms of the night vision goggles, vehicles, sniper rifles, Javelin missiles, and radar, but to put Ukraine in a position of strength in order to negotiate with the Russians. Congressional appropriated funding that was blocked would seem to be a violation of the 1974 Budget and Impoundment Control Act, and the Government Accountability Office which is a nonpartisan agency reported that the Trump White House had, in fact, broken federal law by freezing the aid to Ukraine.
Acting ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor spent some time on the Ukrainian front where he was thanked by a Ukrainian commander for U.S. military assistance, and certainly Taylor knows how vital that aid is to Ukrainian troops in their fight against Russia. Lest we forget that 87 U.S. senators voted to approve the aid, but not Trump who had other aspirations. There are some that cannot see Trump's actions regarding Ukraine as an impeachable offense, yet don't our allies deserve better as opposed to being used as a political pawn in Trump's fight to hold on to another four years as president while Ukraine was being put in a weakened position during the time that U.S. aid was frozen?
Ambassador Gordon Sondland described Rudy Giuliani's role regarding the arrangement for a White House meeting between Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky, and Giuliani had told Prosecutor General Yuriy Vitaliyovych Lutsenko that Trump would not meet with Zelensky. Sondland clearly said that there was, in fact, a quid pro quo, and Sondland had received his orders from Trump. Dr. Fiona Hill spoke of how Burisma was code for the Bidens, and followed up with John Bolton who wanted no part of this "drug deal." Isn't it a little disconcerting that Dr. Hill was ordered by Bolton to inform the chief lawyer for the National Security Council about the "deal?"
We, as a nation, have been trying to promote the rule of law in the post-Soviet states, and Trump's soliciting of Ukraine in order to advance his political interests goes right to the heart of what the framers of the Constitution were concerned about when impeachment was inserted into the document in 1787. By late August there was still no credible justification made to Ukraine for holding off on the aid, and every agency in the executive branch opposed the hold, yet Trump was not willing to release the aid until a public statement was made by Ukraine regarding debunked conspiracy theories about Ukrainian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections.
Wake up, America.
Brent Been is a Tahlequah educator with a special emphasis on civics and history.