Connecticut’s two U.S. senators believe that the release of a previously redacted email strengthens the impeachment case against Donald Trump.
The website Just Security obtained the email through a Freedom of Information request. The communication was sent Aug. 30 by Michael Duffey, associate director of national security programs for the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, to then-acting Pentagon Comptroller Elaine McCusker.
“Clear direction from POTUS to continue to hold,” wrote Duffey.
The email appears to be the clearest evidence yet that Trump personally ordered military aid to Ukraine to be held up over the summer as he put pressure on the Ukrainian government.
Democrats like Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut hope to prove that the president held up $391 million in aid to force an investigation into the family of political rival Joe Biden. Blumenthal hopes the Duffey email revelation will sway Republican senators on impeachment.
“This correspondence is another dramatic revelation about the need for documents and witnesses, so I’ve talked to my colleagues -- one of them last night -- about this issue, and I’m hoping that more of them will share the misgivings of senators who have expressed them so far,” Blumenthal said during a news conference in Hartford Friday.
He wouldn’t share which Republican colleague with whom he spoke.
Blumenthal’s colleague Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said the email demonstrates to him that documents like these should be unredacted in full, in advance of the upcoming impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate.
“It’s important for us to get -- not just the documents that were disclosed to the public -- to get the entirety of the documents without their redactions. Congress should be able to see all of those communications,” Murphy said.
Blumenthal believes that the newly revealed email would be all that lawmakers would be talking about had it not been for a U.S. drone strike that killed Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani.
But both Blumenthal and Murphy stopped short of saying that Trump and his administration used the drone strike as a distraction from impeachment.
“For the time being, I’m going to choose to take the administration at its word that they believed there were imminent attacks against the United States,” Murphy said.
Murphy didn’t close the book on it, though.
“Obviously, with this president you have to worry about ulterior motives,” he said.
Murphy continued by saying he believes the president is not above using national security tools “in order to advance his personal political priorities.”
“That is, in fact, the subject of his impeachment trial,” Murphy said. “I refuse to come to any judgment about this particular action until I have heard from this administration.”