Trump impeachment: Security establishment said US military aid to Ukraine was vital, testifies top defence official

Joe Sommerlad, Clark Mindock
Donald Trump: Andrew Harnik/AP

America’s security establishment believed US military aid to Ukraine was vital and should not be jeopardised, a senior defence official told impeachment investigators probing Donald Trump.

Laura Cooper, deputy assistant secretary of defence, told members of Congress that her department was “concerned” with delaying aid to Ukraine.

“DoD was concerned about the obligation of funds. Policy, my team, we were also concerned about any signal that we would send to Ukraine about a wavering in our commitment,” she said.

She added: “And that’s another reason why, I mean, we did not want for this to be a big public discussion, you know, if we were about to get it turned back on again because we didn’t want to signal any lack of support.”

Ms Cooper told investigators that soon after a meeting of national security officials at the White House, she was visited by Kurt Volker, the US special envoy to Ukraine, who explained there was a “statement” that the Ukraine government could make to get the security money flowing.

Ms Cooper is the latest official whose private testimony has now been made public, as Democrats prepare for open testimony from three witnesses this week, starting on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Mr Trump was subjected to chants of “lock him up” as he addressed New York City’s Veterans Day parade after hitting out at House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff, the top Democrat spearheading the impeachment inquiry, accusing him of releasing “doctored transcripts” of witness depositions.

A lawyer for Lev Parnas, an associate of Mr Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, has meanwhile told The New York Times his client was tasked with offering Ukraine US military aid in exchange for a corruption investigation into 2020 candidate Joe Biden and his son.

As Mr Giuliani denies the claim, the president has called on his fellow Republicans not to fall into the “fools trap” of questioning his 25 July call with the country’s new president, Volodymyr Zelenksy.

Please look below to see how the day’s drama played out