In the first article, an official from the Defense Department stated on the record that no further review was necessary, the aid having gone through necessary reviews. But still, no assistance was coming.Thank goodness for the Fourth Estate.
The next day, Yermak, the aide to Zelensky, texted Volker and William B. Taylor, the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, with concerns about the article. While there are some indications that Ukraine knew about the aid stoppage before that point, it's clear that it was the Politico article that forced the issue to the forefront. Taylor testified that he was flummoxed, not being able to give Yermak a reason the aid had been stopped.
Sondland made it clear to Yermak on Sept. 1: The aid had been stopped because the Trump administration wanted those investigations. In short order, that explicit link between aid and the investigations trickled out to the rest of the United States' Ukraine team. Taylor said that after confronting Sondland that same day, he was told that "everything" depended on an announcement of new investigations, "including security assistance," and that Trump wanted Zelensky "in a public box" on the issue.
Zelensky and his team struggled with a choice articulated by Andrew Kramer of the New York Times: "whether to capitulate to President Trump's demands to publicly announce investigations against his political enemies or to refuse, and lose desperately needed military aid."
Zelensky " who won election as an anti-corruption reformer " decided to capitulate. He'd announce the investigations in an interview with CNN on Sept. 13, Kramer said. The Ukrainians told Sondland on Sept. 8 and he shared it with Taylor. Then, though, the second article had come out. After Zelensky had agreed to the CNN interview but before it was set to occur, the administration released the aid. Zelensky's team canceled the interview, leaving Ukrainians to wonder what he might have said.