Pentagon Ukraine-Russia expert Laura Cooper testified that Ukraine met all of legal corruption elimination thresholds months before Trump froze the military aid.
Here was the exchange with Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT) and Cooper:
Himes: Congress is also concerned about corruption. It wants to ensure that American foreign assistance is spent wisely and does not worsen corruption. So when congress authorized this money, it built-in conditions, just as Mr. Ratcliffe suggested. By law, Ukraine wouldn’t get all the money until it demonstrated it had undertaken substantial anti-corruption reforms. Miss cooper, under the law, the department of defense works with the State Department and other agencies to establish anti-corruption benchmarks and determine whether Ukraine has sufficiently met those benchmarks, correct?
Cooper: That’s correct. That provision pertains to the Ukraine security assistance initiative.
Himes: That’s a legally specified process. That’s not the president in the oval office manifesting a general skepticism of foreign aid. Right?
Cooper: It is a congressionally mandated process, yes, sir.
Himes: Did that process take place for the DOD funding that was held up in July?
Cooper: Sir, the process that took place for the certification took place prior to the may certification to the U.S.
Himes: So, right. Not only did it take place before, as required by law, but months before president trump froze the money, the department of defense in consultation with state sent a letter to congress certifying, and you said this in your opening statement. The government of Ukraine has taken substantial actions to make defense institutional reforms for the purposes of decreasing corruption, increasing accountability and sustaining improvements of combat capability enabled by U.S. Assistance.
So by the time President Trump froze the aid, the department of defense had spent weeks, if not months, determining that the Ukrainian government met every requirement in the law and made significant strides in combating corruption. Is that correct?
Cooper: That is correct. We made that determination in may.
Himes: So this wasn’t about corruption. The timeline proves it.
Impeachment witness Laura Cooper says the funds were certified by the DOD months before Trump froze the aid to Ukraine, so the funds were not blocked because Trump was concerned about "corruption." pic.twitter.com/gxYgMhrRBY
— Sarah Reese Jones (@PoliticusSarah) November 20, 2019
As Rep. Himes said, the Ukraine plot was never about corruption. Corruption was the pretense for getting Ukraine to announce an investigation of Joe Biden. Trump is trying to run the same playbook that he ran in 2016, so he needs dirt on Biden in order to muddy the waters in the minds of 2020 voters. Trump benefits when voters believe that both candidates are equally bad.
There were no concerns about corruption. If corruption was the issue, the funds would have been frozen months before the Zelensky call.
Trump abused his power to help his presidential campaign, and each one of his impeachment defenses is being destroyed by the witnesses who were at the center of it all.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association