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'Selfless' Farage is a national hero! Brexit Party leader praised for election plan – poll

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NIGEL FARAGE has been praised after announcing his decision to stand aside in certain constituencies, an Express.co.uk poll has revealed.

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Pentagon official testifies Trump directed freeze on aid to Ukraine

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Laura Cooper, the top Pentagon official overseeing U.S. policy regarding Ukraine, told House impeachment investigators last month that President Donald Trump directed the relevant agencies to freeze aid to Ukraine over the summer, according to a transcript of her testimony released Monday.

Cooper, during Oct. 23 testimony before the three House committees leading the impeachment inquiry into Trump’s Ukraine dealings, testified that she and other Pentagon officials had answered questions about the Ukraine assistance in the middle of June — so she was surprised when one of her subordinates told her that a hold had been placed on the funds after an interagency meeting in July.

“I got, you know, I got a readout from the meeting — there was discussion in that session about the — about OMB [Office of Management and Budget] saying that they were holding the Congressional Notification related to” Ukraine, Cooper testified, according to the transcript.

Cooper, according to the transcript of her testimony, described the hold as “unusual.”

Cooper said that she attended a meeting on July 23, where “this issue” of Trump’s “concerns about Ukraine and Ukraine security assistance” came up. She said the president’s concerns were conveyed by acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.

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Days later, on July 26, she testified that she found out that both military and humanitarian aid had been impacted.

Asked if the president was authorized to order that type of hold, Cooper said there were concerns that he wasn’t.

“Well, I’m not an expert on the law, but in that meeting immediately deputies began to raise concerns about how this could be done in a legal fashion because there was broad understanding in the meeting that the funding — the State Department funding related to an earmark for Ukraine and that the DOD funding was specific to Ukraine security assistance. So the comments in the room at the deputies’ level reflected a sense that there was not an understanding of how this could legally play out. And at that meeting the deputies agreed to look into the legalities and to look at what was possible,” she said, according to the transcript.

At the next meeting with national security personnel, she said she told attendees “there were two legally available mechanisms should the President want to stop assistance” — a presidential rescission notice to Congress or for the Defense Department to do “a reprogramming action.”

“But I mentioned that either way, there would need to be a notification to Congress,” she said, according to the transcript.

Asked if that happened, Cooper said, “That did not occur.”

Investigators have zeroed in on the testimony of several key figures in the Ukraine affair — including Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, and George Kent, a deputy assistant secretary of state who worked on Ukraine and five other countries — to support the allegation that the Trump administration froze aid intended for Ukraine as part of an attempt to pressure the country to open probes that would benefit Trump politically.

In a statement, the chairs of the three committees leading the inquiry — House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff, D-Calif.; House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Eliot Engel, D-N.Y.; and House Oversight Committee acting Chair Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y. — said Cooper testified that Trump “through the Office of Management and Budget, directed the freeze on hundreds of millions of dollars of critical military aid for Ukraine, against the judgment of career officials in the Department of Defense, Department of State, and other relevant agencies.”

They also said that she had “raised concerns, as did others on several occasions, to senior U.S. government officials about the legality of withholding the congressionally-authorized money, and the challenges that White House delays would put on spending it.”

Cooper’s testimony was delayed by five hours after a group of House Republicans who don’t sit on the committees that questioned her stormed the secure room where her deposition was taking place.



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Read the transcript of Pentagon official Laura Cooper’s impeachment testimony

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House impeachment investigators on Monday released a transcript of testimony that Laura Cooper, the top Pentagon official overseeing U.S. policy regarding Ukraine, gave last month.

Cooper’s closed-door testimony was delayed for over five hours after a group of House Republicans stormed the secure room where the deposition was taking place.

Read her testimony below:

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