Mark Sandy, a career official with the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB), told the House of Representatives’ impeachment inquiry that he did not receive an explanation for the freeze of $400 million in aid to Ukraine until around the time the money was ultimately released.
In a deposition to lawmakers released late Tuesday, Sandy said he received the explanation through an email from a senior OMB official in charge of defense programs, Mike Duffey. The explanation, Sandy said in paraphrase, was that “the President's direction reflected his concerns about the contributions from other countries for Ukraine. … That was the one definitive reason that I recall seeing during this period.” Sandy said he received the explanation “either on the 11th or 12th of September.” The aid was released on Sept. 11, which House Democrats pointed out last week was after they had already begun probing the aid freeze following revelations of a whistleblower’s objections to President Trump apparently pressuring Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky to investigate Trump’s domestic political enemies.
Multiple officials testified before the impeachment inquiry that they understood the aid to be held up not out of concern for other nations’ allegedly insufficient contributions, but to secure announcements of those investigations. The OMB chief and acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, gave that explanation publicly last month and said anyone who objected should “get over it.” Sandy is the only OMB official to have given a deposition to the inquiry thus far.