Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

President Donald Trump arrives for a campaign rally at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida on November 26, 2019. (Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

'Only Did the Right Thing When He Got Caught': Trump Reportedly Knew of Whistleblower Complaint When He Unfroze Ukraine Aid

"It was only until he felt that he was being exposed that he actually stepped up and actually released the funds."

Jake Johnson

President Donald Trump was reportedly aware of the whistleblower complaint against him when he released $390 million in frozen military aid to Ukraine in early September, prompting allegations that Trump only released the funds because his actions came under serious scrutiny.

"The timeline is clear," said Sean Eldridge, founder of progressive advocacy group Stand Up America. "Trump only released the aid because he got caught."

The New York Times, citing two anonymous officials familiar with the matter, reported late Tuesday that "Trump had already been briefed on a whistleblower's complaint about his dealings with Ukraine when he unfroze military aid for the country."

"Mr. Trump faced bipartisan pressure from Congress when he released the aid," the Times noted. "But the new timing detail shows that he was also aware at the time that the whistleblower had accused him of wrongdoing in withholding the aid and in his broader campaign to pressure Ukraine's new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to conduct investigations that could benefit Mr. Trump's re-election chances."

If the Times reporting is accurate, it means Trump was also aware of the whistleblower complaint when he told U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland in September that there was no "quid pro quo" with Ukraine.

According to House Budget Committee documents, Trump officially froze the aid to Ukraine on July 25, the same day as the president's phone call with Zelensky. Democrats have accused the president of unlawfully withholding the aid, which was appropriated by Congress.

"It was only until he felt that he was being exposed that he actually stepped up and actually released the funds," Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Mich.) told CNN Tuesday night.

The Washington Post reported late Tuesday that two officials at the White House Office of Management and Budget resigned in part over concerns about Trump's order to withhold the Ukraine funds.

Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), a member of the House Judiciary Committee, offered a simplified timeline of events on Twitter in response to the Times reporting, which was later confirmed by the Wall Street Journal.

"One more time for those playing along at home," tweeted Cicilline. "1) He tried to bribe Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 election. 2) He got caught. 3) He confessed. 4) We will hold him accountable."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'Tipping Point of No Return' Feared as Amazon Rainforest Fires Surge

"Up to now, the Biden administration has only legitimized the Brazilian government's anti-Indigenous and anti-environmental agenda," said Greenpeace USA.

Jake Johnson ·


Biden Urged to Embrace Windfall Tax as Exxon Says Profits Doubled in Second Quarter

"It's time for the president to demand that Congress pass a windfall profits tax on Big Oil and use the revenue to provide rebates to consumers NOW!" wrote Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Jake Johnson ·


Texas Supreme Court Allows Century-Old Abortion Ban to Take Effect

"Extremist politicians are on a crusade to force Texans into pregnancy and childbirth against their will, no matter how devastating the consequences."

Jake Johnson ·


'What's There to Even Discuss?' Omar Says Free, Universal School Meals Should Be Permanent

"We have an opportunity to prove that a government of the people, by the people, and for the people can still deliver big things. And we can feed tens of millions of hungry kids while we do it."

Jake Johnson ·


'Stark Betrayal': Biden Administration Floats New Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling

"This is the third time since November the Biden administration has announced new oil and gas leasing plans on the Friday before a holiday," said one climate advocate. "They're ashamed, and they should be."

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo