According to Ellen Mitchell, the Pentagon is working hard to distance itself from allegations that Trump might have pressured “Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a July 25 call to investigate his political rival, 2020 presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden” in exchange for $400 million in military aid.
Department officials in the past week have sought to avoid the political fray, downplaying the administration’s holdup of military aid to Ukraine and preemptively ordering employees to turn over for preservation any documents and communications having to do with it.
Questions remain about whether the Pentagon was involved in or even aware of the decision to withhold the money. Officials have declined to answer questions, citing the confidentiality of conversations between the department and the White House. Pentagon officials also have insisted there is a “solid working relationship” between the two.
Chief Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman on Thursday told reporters that no one from the Defense Department was on the July 25 call. “To my knowledge, no one from the Department of Defense was on that call. I’ve specifically asked the secretary of Defense that question, and he was not on that call,” Hoffman said, referring to Pentagon chief Mark Esper.