USA

Budget official says he didn't know why military aid was delayed: report

White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) official Mark Sandy, who testified in the impeachment inquiry Saturday, told congressional investigators that he did not know why aid to Ukraine was held up, The New York Times reported, citing two sources. 

Sandy also said he had never come across a similar situation during his time with the OMB, the two people familiar with his testimony told The Times. 

Sandy testified Saturday in the impeachment probe into President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump opens new line of impeachment attack for Democrats Bloomberg to spend 0M on anti-Trump ads in battleground states New witness claims first-hand account of Trump's push for Ukraine probes MORE after he was subpoenaed by House Democrats, making him the latest to defy the White House's attempt to prevent officials from testifying in the inquiry. He is the first budget official to testify. 

One area House Democrats have been looking into during their impeachment inquiry is the Trump administration's withholding of aid to Ukraine around the time that President Trump pushed for the country's president, Volodymyr Zelensky to look into Democratic presidential candidate Joe BidenJoe BidenBloomberg to spend 0M on anti-Trump ads in battleground states New witness claims first-hand account of Trump's push for Ukraine probes Obama cautions 2020 hopefuls against going too far left MORE.

Some witnesses have testified that the aid was conditioned on investigations or that there was a quid pro quo between Trump and Ukraine's leader. 

Trump has denied these claims and defended withholding aid to Ukraine, saying he wanted other countries to pay more to help Ukraine and also expressed concern about possible corruption in the country. 

"It’s looking like Democrats are now desperate to sell any narrative that’ll justify what most Americans recognize has been an extreme abuse of Congress’ powers," a senior administration official told The Hill in an email Saturday. "At this point, their fishing expedition would probably even find George Washington guilty of treason.”

"Everything so far is about the temperature of the room, and that the testimony was 'technical' and didn’t get them what they wanted," the official added of Sandy's testimony. 

Rep. Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben RaskinBrindisi, Lamb recommended for Armed Services, Transportation Committees Overnight Defense: Protests at Trump's NYC Veterans Day speech | House Dems release Pentagon official's deposition transcript | Lawmakers ask Trump to rescind Erdogan invite Bipartisan House members call on Trump to rescind Erdoğan invitation MORE (D-Md.) had previously said Saturday that Sandy's testimony was “a technical part of our investigation," according to The Washington Post. 

“We want to know exactly how the president translated his political objective to shake down the Ukrainian government for the favors he wanted, translated into the budget process,” Raskin said. 

The Times reported that Sandy is a career official and not an appointee of President Trump. He is the deputy associate director of the OMB's national security division.