Ukraine aid was released sooner than Trump said: report

The State Department released military aid to Ukraine before President TrumpDonald TrumpUkraine's president compares UN to 'a retired superhero' Collins to endorse LePage in Maine governor comeback bid Heller won't say if Biden won election 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 BoltonOvernight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod Joint Chiefs Chairman Milley becomes lightning rod on right Ex-Trump adviser Bolton defends Milley: 'His patriotism is unquestioned' 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 MulvaneyHeadhunters having hard time finding jobs for former Trump officials: report Trump holdovers are denying Social Security benefits to the hardest working Americans Mulvaney calls Trump's comments on Capitol riot 'manifestly false' 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 BidenUkraine's president compares UN to 'a retired superhero' Biden touts 'progress' during 'candid' meetings on .5T plan Biden to tap law professor who wants to 'end banking as we know it' as OCC chief: reports MORE.