Officials at the Office of Management and Budget kept its freeze on aid to Ukraine at the "clear direction from POTUS" despite warnings from the Department of Defense that doing so could be illegal, according to unredacted emails obtained by Just Security.
The emails between DOD and OMB officials were obtained through a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act by the Center for Public Integrity. Heavily redacted emails were released on Dec. 12 and a second batch on Dec. 20. Nearly 300 emails were included in the release.
The unredacted copies published by Just Security reveal the Defense Department repeatedly pressed the OMB on why military aid to Ukraine was being held up. There was growing concern from officials that the hold would violate the Impoundment Control Act, which "requires the executive branch to spend money as appropriated by Congress," according to Just Security.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said the emails support his case that the White House should provide witnesses for the upcoming Senate impeachment trial.
“The newly-revealed unredacted emails are a devastating blow to Senator McConnell’s push to have a trial without the documents and witnesses we’ve requested," Schumer said in a statement to ABC News.
"These emails further expose the serious concerns raised by Trump administration officials about the propriety and legality of the president’s decision to cut off aid to Ukraine to benefit himself," he added.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi responded to the release of the emails by Just Security on Thursday.
"Trump engaged in unprecedented, total obstruction of Congress, hiding these emails, all other documents, and his top aides from the American people," she said in a Tweet.
"His excuse was a phony complaint about the House process."
The White House so far has declined to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry.