US Democrats subpoena Pentagon documents in Trump impeachment inquiry

A Pentagon spokesperson denied Esper was on the phone call between Trump and Zelensky

Congressional Democrats on Monday, October 7, subpoenaed the Department of Defense and White House budget office as part of their advancing impeachment investigation, demanding documents tied to President Donald Trump’s withholding of military aide to Ukraine.

The chairmen of three House of Representatives panels leading the impeachment probe are seeking information related to Trump pressing his Ukrainian counterpart to uncover damaging information about 2020 U.S. presidential contender Joe Biden, and the alleged conditioning of military aid – including Javelin anti-tank missile sales – on that favor.

The move comes days after the U.S. Defense Department’s general counsel ordered Pentagon officials to “preserve all documents, records and writings” pertaining to U.S.’s Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative in anticipation of Congressional interest.

The U.S. House of Representatives has opened an impeachment inquiry into President Trump over his July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“The enclosed subpoena demands documents that are necessary for the committees to examine … the reasons behind the White House’s decision to withhold critical military assistance to Ukraine that was appropriated by Congress to counter Russian aggression,” the chairmen wrote in letters to Defense Secretary Mark Esper and others.

Pentagon spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman told reporters last week that Defense Secretary Mark Esper was not on the July 25 phone call between Trump and Zelensky, but that Esper “was aware of the concerns on corruption and he was aware of concerns with regard to our allies contributing additional funds.”

Hoffman would not say when Secretary Esper learned that Trump was conditioning the aid on an apparent political favor.

“The secretary was aware that there was a delay, and that we were working through it, and our goal … was to get [the aid] out by the end of the fiscal year, and we were able to do that,” Hoffman said.

Trump and his attorney, Rudi Giuliani, have countered that they did nothing wrong and that the Trump administration wanted Zelensky to investigate corruption.

With reporting from AFP

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