Trump admin reveals existence of emails concerning hold on aid to Ukraine

The Department of Justice (DOJ) just revealed the existence of an unexploded “bombshell” about President Donald Trump’s interactions regarding American assistance to Ukraine — not that it much matters at this stage.

In a midnight court filing Friday, the Trump administration acknowledged that some 24 emails exist that touch on the president’s decision making about the hold on aid to Ukraine that is at the heart of the impeachment matter, TheWashington Post reported. The administration cited executive privilege in its argument that the emails should remain protected, with its filing coming just hours after Republicans rallied to put Trump on a path to acquittal, according to The Hill.

Administration acknowledges emails

Democrats impeached Trump for “abuse of power,” alleging that he pressured Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, and for “obstructing Congress” by supposedly blocking lawmakers’ inquiries into his actions.

They capitalized on a trickle of documents and “bombshells” throughout his impeachment trial to push for more witnesses, but those efforts failed Friday when Republicans voted to block additional testimony, setting the stage for rapid acquittal later this week.

Just hours after Friday’s witness vote, the Justice Department fought back against a demand to release unredacted versions of 24 emails from the Pentagon and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) relating to the freeze on aid to Ukraine, the Post reported. OMB asserted that the documents should remain protected, because they reflect Trump’s thinking and deliberative processes regarding the hold on aid.

“Specifically, the documents in this category are emails that reflect communications by either the President, the Vice President, or the President’s immediate advisors regarding Presidential decision-making about the scope, duration, and purpose of the hold on military assistance to Ukraine,” the OMB’s lawyer said.

The Center for Public Integrity obtained redacted copies of the emails in December, the Post reported, during a stalemate that kept impeachment in limbo for almost a month. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) pointed to the emails at the time to press for additional witnesses, but the trial proceeded on terms more favorable to the Republicans, and it looks to be ending the same way.

Dems pledge ongoing probes

The Democrats have accused Trump and the Republicans of a “cover-up” by forcing a quick trial with “no witnesses” or documents, despite House Democrats having gathered testimony from 17 witnesses and amassing copious documents before voting to impeach Trump in December. Republicans have argued that Democrats did an incomplete job before hurriedly passing their articles, and that the impeachment was simply animated by the desire to remove Trump from office that has driven Democrats since 2016.

Although Trump is expected to be acquitted on Wednesday, Democrats have vowed to deny him any vindication and to continue investigating him on matters ranging from Robert Mueller’s Russia probe to his tax returns. Democrats will almost certainly attempt to cite any evidence, including the new Ukraine email “bombshell,” as proof of a rigged trial.

“Every single Republican senator voted to endorse the White House coverup of these potentially important truth-revealing emails,” Schumer said. “Make no mistake, the full truth will eventually come out and Republicans will have to answer for why they were so determined to enable the president to hide it.”

The Democrats’ impeachment managers and Trump’s lawyers resumed the trial with closing arguments on Monday, although the presentations are mostly a formality and of little interest at this point.

The trial is winding down in a busy week: the Iowa caucuses on Monday evening may give a clearer indication of who will face Trump in November, and the president’s State of the Union address is scheduled for the following night.

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