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Report: State Department defied White House, released Ukraine aid before President Trump says he authorized it

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This could change the narrative

John Bolton (left), former national security adviser, Mick Mulvaney, acting White House chief of staff, and Mike Pompeo, U.S. secretary of state. (Alex Wroblewski/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Although President Donald Trump said he released aid money to Ukraine on Sept. 11 without a public statement from Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky about investigating the Bidens, Bloomberg reported that the State Department actually released the aid days earlier, and Trump may not have released it at all otherwise.

President Trump's July 25 call with Zelensky, over which Democrats are attempting to impeach him, included references to promised aid money and desired investigations that Democrats are framing as extortion and an abuse of presidential power.

One of the defenses by Republicans against these accusations is that because President Trump released the aid money on Sept. 11 without getting the investigations, or even public statements about investigations, that there could be no quid pro quo.

Bloomberg's report, which cites five sources and a memo allegedly sent to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, paints a different picture.

According to Bloomberg, State Department lawyers had determined that the neither the president nor the Office of Management and Budget had authority to withhold the congressionally apportioned aid. So, on Sept. 9 (two days before Trump said he authorized the release) the funding was released, reportedly on the order of former national security adviser John Bolton.

Two questions immediately arise from this new information, if it is proven true: Did Bolton do this with President Trump's blessing, or did he go over the president's head to release the aid? And, would Trump have released the aid on his own had Bolton not done so?

OMB denies the characterization that Bolton defied the president to release the aid, and also disagrees with the State Department that OMB doesn't have the authority to withhold apportioned aid. Trump has said he released the aid Sept. 11 after persuasion from GOP Sen. Rob Portman (Ohio).

Bolton, who has been referenced in impeachment inquiry depositions, has not yet testified — but that could change as the process progresses. He was fired by Trump on the night of Sept. 9.

That may explain a cryptic letter that Bolton's lawyer sent to Congress on Friday saying the former national security adviser has "new details" about the Ukraine matter that they don't know about, without elaborating. Bolton has declined to testify against White House orders unless a judge rules he should and didn't respond to multiple emails seeking comment.

(H/T Hot Air)

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