Official: Two OMB staffers resigned over temporary hold on aid to Ukraine

One thing that has become abundantly clear as more witnesses testify in the Democrats’ ongoing impeachment inquiry is that a number of career bureaucrats really had their feathers ruffled by President Donald Trump’s unconventional foreign policy methods — particularly with respect to the temporary hold placed on military aid to Ukraine.

In fact, it was revealed in a sworn deposition by an official at the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that two career OMB staffers resigned earlier this year at least in part because of the manner in which the aid to Ukraine was withheld, the Daily Mail reported Tuesday.

Sandy’s testimony

That revelation came during the Nov. 16 testimony of Mark Sandy, the Deputy Associate Director for National Security Programs at OMB.

Sandy’s testimony, a transcript of which was made public on Tuesday, largely revolved around when he first learned of the hold on roughly $250 million in military aid to Ukraine as part of a particular program that he oversaw, what reasons were given for the hold, and when the hold was eventually lifted to allow the apportioned aid to be fully distributed through the Department of Defense.

The official testified that he first learned of the hold in mid-July, though there had been rumors of a potential hold as early as mid-June — prior to President Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that is at the heart of the impeachment effort. He noted that the hold was finally lifted on Sept. 11.

Sandy also said that no reasons were initially given for the hold, other than that it had been ordered by the president. He added that despite repeated queries to satisfy their own curiosity and better perform their jobs, he and his staff only learned in early September — prior to the hold being lifted — that the reason for the hold had been the president’s concern over the inadequate amount of aid provided to Ukraine by other European nations.

Dissenting opinions

As for the resignations of the two career OMB bureaucrats, Sandy testified that one colleague had resigned from OMB in September over the Ukraine hold.

Sandy said that he had learned in conversation with that person that “this individual did express frustrations” with the situation.

The other individual who resigned came from the “legal division” of OMB, according to the official, and had expressed to Sandy that they had concerns regarding the Impoundment Control Act.

Neither of the two individuals who resigned was named. It is unclear whether they were senior officials or lower-level staffers.

Looking forward

While Sandy testified that he had never personally witnessed a temporary hold of a similar nature during his career, he said he was aware of holds being placed in other departments not in his purview. He also stated that it was generally understood by all involved — based on footnotes in documents that repeatedly extended the hold for brief periods of time — that the aid would eventually be delivered.

Ultimately, there was nothing in Sandy’s testimony that was particularly damning for the president — and in the end, it was just another swing and miss for the Democrats.

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