Documents released Thursday night by the House Foreign Affairs Committee show a clear attempt by Donald Trump to force Ukraine into an “investigation” of his political rival Joe Biden. Trump withheld a $400 million military aid package from Ukraine, even though that aid was approved by Congress with bipartisan support in Early February.
On May 23, the Trump administration told Congress that it would release the aid funds to Ukraine, which depends on the help to combat an invasion and occupation by Russia in Ukraine’s eastern region of Donbass. But Trump did not release the aid, for reasons that were not clear at the time.
As Trump sat on the aid package, in the three months of June, July, and August, 29 soldiers in Ukraine’s armed forces died in the war against the Russian invasion, according to a report published at the end of August by The Kyiv Post newspaper.
That total is about 40 percent of the total number of Ukrainian soldiers killed so far in 2019. According to The Kyiv Post, about 3,000 members of Ukraine’s military have died since fighting began in April of 2014, though a United Nations report put the estimate of Ukraine military deaths closer to 4,000.
The documents released on Thursday by the House include text messages from the acting United States ambassador to Ukraine that go as far back as early September, as The Inquisitr reported. The texts reportedly detailed that Trump was holding back the aid package as leverage to push Ukraine into helping with his 2020 re-election campaign by “investigating” Biden.
— Spencer Ackerman (@attackerman) October 4, 2019
In one text to diplomatic colleagues, Acting Ambassador Bill Taylor called the plan to hold back aid until Ukraine agreed to investigate Biden “crazy.”
In addition to potential violations of campaign finance laws by demanding a “thing of value” from Ukraine to help with his campaign — soliciting help from from foreign governments in domestic political campaigns is illegal and likely unconstitutional — Trump may have also violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits offering anything “of value” to a foreign official in order to influence that official, as well as laws regulating arms sales, as The Inquisitr reported.
Arms sales laws allow a president to delay military aid only under certain conditions for specific reasons, none of which appear to apply in the case of Trump’s decision to hold back the aid to Ukraine, The Inquisitr has reported.
According to The Kyiv Post, among the 29 Ukrainian soldiers killed as Trump held back military aid was Vladyslav Loktionov, who joined the army to fight the Russian invasion at the age of 38, four years ago. The single father of one was soon taken captive by Russian-backed militants and held in captivity for two years. After his release, he joined the army again. On July 7, Loktionov was killed by artillery fire from the Russian-backed militants in Donetsk Province where much of the fighting has taken place.
Trump finally released the military aid package on September 11, when Democratic Senator Richard Durbin said that he would freeze $5 billion in Pentagon funding unless the aid to Ukraine was delivered, according to a Washington Post report.