Mick Mulvaney, acting in his capacity as head of the Office of Management and Budget for the White House, sent out a strange request to the Department of Defense to put a hold on sending important anti-tank missiles to Ukraine earlier this year, a DoD official said in testimony to impeachment investigators.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Catherine Croft’s testimony, which was given to House impeachment inquiry investigators last week, was made public on Monday. In the documents, Croft alleged that Mulvaney put a halt to a plan to send Javelin missiles to Ukraine, which were being sent there in order to help them in their fight against Russia on their eastern border.
Mulvaney stopped the plan, however, doing so not as acting chief of staff to President Donald Trump but rather as head of OMB, The Dailiy Beast reported Croft as saying in her deposition. The Trump administration had originally authorized the transfer of the weapon to Kyiv.
Croft told House impeachment investigators that the reason for the holdup, as was explained to her, was “a policy one.” In particular, Mulvaney was concerned about Russia’s response to the transfer of weaponry to the region.
“In a briefing with Mick Mulvaney, the question centered around the Russian reaction…that Russia would react negatively to the provision of Javelins to Ukraine,” Croft said in her testimony.
OMB put a separate, earlier hold on Javelin missiles to Ukraine because Mick Mulvaney was concerned that “Russia would react negatively,” according to State Dept. official Catherine Croft. OMB was the lone objector. pic.twitter.com/kChQynqe3n
— Natasha Bertrand (@NatashaBertrand) November 11, 2019
The call from Mulvaney to halt the missiles, from his role as head of OMB, struck the Defense official as peculiar.
Croft called it “unusual to have OMB expressing concerns that were purely policy-based and not budget-oriented.”
In other parts of her testimony, Croft implied that withholding aid in general to Ukraine was odd, given that the Pentagon had laid out anti-corruption benchmarks for the country to reach in order to qualify for help, and that Ukraine had reached those goals.
Asked in her deposition by House investigators whether the benchmarks had been met, Croft responded in the affirmative. “That is correct,” she said.
Democrats have been critical of Trump in the past over his relationship with Russia, which some allege has been too cozy. During a meeting in mid-October between Trump, Republicans, and Democratic lawmakers, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi spoke out against Trump’s plans to withdraw troops from Syria, pointing out that doing so would benefit Moscow.
“All roads with you lead to Putin,” Pelosi said she stated to Trump in the meeting, according to The Week.