Probe finds Mulvaney sought to justify Ukraine aid holdup after the fact: report

Acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyGiuliani meets with fired Ukrainian prosecutor who pushed Biden, 2016 claims: report Fox's Napolitano says obstruction 'easiest' impeachment offense for Democrats The key impeachment hearings are before an appeals court, not the House Judiciary panel MORE and budget officials scrambled to reverse-engineer an explanation for the hold on military aid to Ukraine, according to The Washington Post, citing three people familiar with records of a White House review.

White House attorneys have expressed concern about unflattering exchanges discovered in a review of the records, although it is unclear whether they involve any potentially illegal activity. Despite this, some White House officials are concerned the publication of the emails could create political problems, according to the Post.

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In early August, Mulvaney asked acting Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Russell Vought how much longer the aid could be legally delayed and inquired about the OMB’s progress on developing a legal rationale for the hold. Trump had made the decision in July without consulting anyone regarding its legality, according to the Post, citing two White House officials.

Vought and other OMB staffers argued for the hold’s legality in the emails with the State Department, and National Security Council officials pushed back, according to the Post, with OMB attorneys arguing it was legally justifiable as long as it was considered a “temporary” hold.

On July 25, the day of Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, a senior budget attorney wrote a memo defending a limited hold, according to the Post.

The review also includes email conversations between OMB and State officials discussing potential legal issues with the White House holding up nearly $400 million in military aid, according to the Post.

Mark Sandy, the only OMB official to testify in the House’s impeachment inquiry thus far, said the aid delay was highly unusual and that he had never known a political official to assume control of an aid package in such a way, according to the Post, citing people familiar with his testimony.

The Hill has reached out to the OMB and the White House for comment.