Late on Friday evening, the Department of Defense released five pages of records to American Oversight — including emails sent by Secretary of Defense Mark Esper — in response to the watchdog group’s Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeking records related to the Trump administration’s efforts to pressure Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 election.
While heavily redacted, based on facts developed through the impeachment inquiry and independent journalism, the emails show senior officials in the Pentagon and the Office of Management and Budget engaged on the issue of aid to Ukraine at a time when the president himself was insisting on freezing such aid.
“As OMB and Defense officials debated the finer points of military aid funding, we know that none of their effort or apparent confusion over funding for Ukraine would have been necessary but for the president and his shadow foreign policy,” said Austin Evers, executive director of American Oversight. “It is deeply troubling to see so many public servants dragged, perhaps unwittingly, into the president’s extortion scheme.”
The records produced to American Oversight on Dec. 20, 2019, came in response to a lawsuit seeking senior officials’ emails relating to the Trump administration’s effort to pressure Ukraine to investigate the president’s political rivals. The production includes emails sent by Esper in August 2019 and Deputy Secretary David Norquist in September and October 2019.
This is the second production of Ukraine-related records obtained by American Oversight, and, like State Department records released in late November, these records were also not released to Congress during the House impeachment inquiry, despite congressional subpoenas.
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