Elaine McCusker, whose nomination to become Pentagon Comptroller, has been abruptly withdrawn by the Trump Administration
The White House has punished another official over the Trump-Ukraine affair, withdrawing the nomination of a Pentagon staffer who raised concern about the legality of Donald Trump’s freeze on military aid to Kiev.
Elaine McCusker, the Acting Pentagon Comptroller, was expected to be confirmed on a permanent basis after she was nominated in November, but the Trump Administration suddenly withdrew the nomination without giving a reason.
Trump suspended almost $400 million of aid to Ukraine as he pressured Kyiv for investigations to tarnish Presidential candidate Joe Biden and to cover up Russia’s involvement in the 2016 US election.
McCusker e-mailed White House budget officials about the delay in providing assistance, noting that it violated a Congressional mandate for the aid.
But in an August 30 message, after Trump rebuffed officials such as National Security Advisor John Bolton and Defense Secretary Mark Esper, the Office of Management and Budget’s Michael Duffey directed McCusker: “Clear direction from POTUS [Trump] to continue to hold [the aid].”
Ten days later, after House legislators were told of a formal complaint about a July 25 call in which Trump sought investigations from new Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Duffey e-mailed McCusker to pin the blame on the Penteagon: “If you are unable to obligate the funds, it will have been Department of Defense’s decision that cause any impoundment of funds.”
McCusker responded, “You can’t be serious. I am speechless.”
Two days after Republican Senators closed down his impeachment trial last month, Trump removed Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman from the National Security Council and had security personnel escort the decorated war veteran from the White House.
Trump also recalled US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, who was a central figure in the pressure campaign by Trump and his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.
Both men rebuffed a White House order to defy House Intelligence Committee subpoenas for testimony. Vindman spoke of the July 25 Trump-Vindman call, and Sondland explained how Giuliani operated at Trump’s direction.
John Rood, a senior Pentagon official for policy, resigned last month. He was also involved in the deliberations and queries of officials over the aid freeze, which witnesses said threatened US and Ukrainian national security.