Suppose Donald Trump didn’t instruct the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to withhold aid to Ukraine on the condition that they “make up dirt on my political opponent — lots of it,” to quote from Adam Schiff’s “free interpretation” of the July 25 transcript. Suppose the real reason for the president’s request had nothing to do with the investigation of Burisma or Hunter Biden.
According to the deposition taken of Mark Sandy, an official at OMB, those suppositions are correct. Following the release yesterday of the transcript from Sandy’s deposition, Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) noted that the only reason ever given to the OMB as why there was to be a hold placed on aid to Ukraine was the president’s concern that other countries were not bearing their burden of aid to the nation — a theme that Trump has sounded repeatedly. If that interpretation is accurate, the request can no longer be construed as having anything to do with either of the Bidens. Allegations of bribery are out the window. Here is Zeldin’s tweet:
The transcript for OMB’s Mark Sandy was just released. The ONLY reason he was ever given why there was a hold on $ to Ukraine was “the President’s concern about other countries not contributing more to Ukraine.” NOT bribery. NOT quid pro quo or any other WACKY Schiff conspiracy!
— Lee Zeldin (@RepLeeZeldin) November 26, 2019
Below, via the Daily Wire, is the relevant portion of the transcript. The Duffey in question is Michael Duffey, a politically appointed official at the OMB who received the instruction to delay aid to Ukraine. The money portion of the exchange appears in boldface.
Question: Between July 19th and July 22nd, including July 22nd, did Mr. Duffey provide you any explanation as to why the President wanted to place a hold on Ukraine security assistance?
Mark Sandy: No.
Question: Did you ask?
Question: And what was the response?
Sandy: He was not aware of the reason.
Question: To the best of your recollection, what precisely did he say to you when you asked for the reason for the President’s decision to place a hold on security assistance?
Sandy: That he was not aware.
Question: Did Mr. Duffey say that he was going to try to get additional information as to the reason for the hold?
Sandy: Yes. He certainly said that if he got additional information he would share it with us.
Question: At any point in time, from the moment that you walked into the [Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility] to anytime in history, has Mr. Duffey ever provided to you a reason why the President wanted to place a hold on security assistance?
Sandy: I recall in early September an email [from Mike Duffey] that attributed the hold to the President’s concern about other counties not contributing money to Ukraine.
Question: Was this the first time that you heard that the hold might be about some sort of concern that other countries are not providing sufficient support to Ukraine?
Sandy: We had received information requesting — sorry. We had received requests for additional information on what other countries were contributing to Ukraine.
“Concern about other counties not contributing money to Ukraine.” That is it in a nutshell. Even if other witnesses counter Sandy’s testimony, how can the Democrats explain it away?