Ukraine aid was released sooner than Trump said: report

The State Department released military aid to Ukraine before President TrumpDonald John TrumpSanders says he wouldn't 'drop dead' if Trump decided on universal healthcare Overnight Health Care: Trump officials lay groundwork for May reopening | Democrats ramp up talks with Mnuchin on next relief deal | Fauci says death toll could be around 60,000 Hillicon Valley: State officials push for more election funds | Coronavirus surveillance concerns ramp up pressure for privacy bill | Senators warned not to use Zoom | Agencies ask FCC to revoke China Telecom's license MORE announced that he had stopped withholding it on Sept. 11, Bloomberg reported reported Saturday, citing five people familiar with the matter. 

State Department lawyers had found earlier this year that the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and therefore Trump could not legally block the aid, Bloomberg reported, noting that this determination resulted in the release of the $141 million. 


OMB spokeswoman Rachel Semmel challenged this narrative in a statement to The Hill. 

"At no point was this pause inappropriate, let alone illegal," Semmel said. "OMB has the statutory role to manage budget execution, consistent with the law and the President’s policy agenda."

"The State Department did not challenge the legality of the review with senior OMB leadership at any point," she added. 

Bloomberg reported that then-national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonChina sees chance to expand global influence amid pandemic Trump ignores science at our peril Bolton defends decision to shutter NSC pandemic office MORE on Sept. 9 told the State Department that the funding could go ahead. It is reportedly unclear whether President Trump had approved this move. 

One person familiar with the matter told the news outlet that White House officials viewed the move as a protocol violation and that it had surprised acting chief of staff Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyOne year in, Democrats frustrated by fight for Trump tax returns Meadows joins White House in crisis mode Meadows resigns from Congress, heads to White House MORE

Semmel also disputed that in a statement to The Hill, saying that other offices, including the National Security Council, do not "have the authority to release such a funding hold if a policy review is underway."

The funding in question is at the center of the House's impeachment inquiry into Trump. Lawmakers are looking into whether Trump withheld the aid to pressure Ukraine into investigating Democratic presidential candidate Joe BidenJoe BidenSteyer endorses Biden for president Sanders 2020 press secretary: Democratic leadership interested in 'corporate status quo' or 'they're planning to replace Joe' Biden joins calls to release racial breakdowns of coronavirus cases, deaths MORE.