WASHINGTON – Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Thursday dug in on his demand that the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump include new documents and testimony after revelation of administration emails that show officials questioned the legality of delaying aid to Ukraine.
“The newly revealed unredacted emails are a devastating blow to Sen. McConnell’s push to have a trial without the documents and witnesses we’ve requested,” Schumer said in a statement, referring to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “These emails further expose the serious concerns raised by Trump administration officials about the propriety and legality of the president’s decision to cut off aid to Ukraine to benefit himself.”
The website Just Security, which is based at the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at the New York University School of Law, said a review of unredacted versions of Trump administration emails released as part of a lawsuit shows growing concern among Pentagon officials that a continued hold on the aid ordered by the president would violate the Impoundment Control Act. The law requires the executive branch to spend money as appropriated by Congress, and the documents show that the necessary steps to avoid running afoul of the act weren’t being taken.
“Clear direction from POTUS to continue to hold,” reads one of the emails, from Michael Duffey, associate director of national security programs at the Office of Management and Budget, to Elaine McCusker, the acting Pentagon comptroller, on Aug. 30.
Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have been at a stalemate with McConnell over procedures for Trump’s Senate trial on two articles of impeachment — for abuse of power and obstructing Congress — that were adopted by the House last month. Pelosi has been holding up delivering the two articles to the Senate, which would trigger the trial, saying they want to include documents and testimony from witnesses withheld or blocked by Trump during the House investigation of the president’s dealings with Ukraine.
“The American people deserve a fair trial that gets to the truth, not a rigged process that enables a cover-up,” Schumer said in his statement.
A court ordered the government to release almost 300 pages of emails to the Center for Public Integrity in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. Many of the emails, released in two batches last month, were partially or completely blacked out. Just Security said it was able to view unredacted copies of some of the documents.
Democrats accuse Trump of withholding the military assistance to Ukraine to pressure that country to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son. The aid was released on Sept. 11 amid pressure from lawmakers and as a complaint from a whistle-blower who raised alarms about Trump’s July phone conversation with Ukraine’s president was about to be made public.