Hours after the Senate voted against calling witnesses in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, the administration acknowledged in a late Friday court filing that there are two dozen emails that reveal Trump’s thinking in withholding military aid to Ukraine. The filing by the Justice Department, which was released near midnight Friday, marks the first time the White House has acknowledged that the emails exist and that Trump was involved in conversations regarding the aid as early as June. The emails were also withheld from Congress.
Heather Walsh, a lawyer for the Office of Management and Budget, argued in the filing that the 24 emails should be protected under “presidential privilege.” Walsh noted that the emails that were sent between June and September of last year describe “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 filing was in response to a lawsuit by the Center for Public Integrity, which had sought unredacted copies of the emails. The redacted emails include one from June 24,2019 between Pentagon officials that has the subject line “POTUS follow up.”
The reasons for withholding of almost $400 million in military aid to Ukraine and whether it was done to pressure Kyiv to announce political investigations are key to Trump’s impeachment trial. But now that the Senate voted to block witnesses and other new evidence, Trump’s acquittal is virtually assured next week. Rep. Adam Schiff warned Friday that the contents of the emails will eventually become public. “The facts will come out in all of their horror,” Schiff said in closing remarks. “The documents the president is hiding will come out. The witnesses the president is concealing will tell their stories.”