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Emails offer new details on Ukraine military aid funding

A request to freeze military aid to Ukraine was made less than two hours after President Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, a White House email released this weekend shows. Meanwhile, days after his impeachment, Trump focuses on the economy amid his reelection bid. POLITICO's Anita Kumar joins Yamiche Alcindor for more.

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  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    This weekend, new information about the administration's hold on military aid to Ukraine emerged late Friday as part of a Freedom of Information Act request. A court ordered e mails released related to millions of dollars of aid.

    One of those emails shows that an Office of Management and Budget official requested that funds be held up less than two hours after President Trump's phone call with Ukraine's president on July 25th.

    A spokesperson for OMB defended the move. She said it would be "reckless" to tie the hold to the phone call.

    For more on this story and reaction to the impeachment of the president, POLITICO reporter Anita Kumar joins us from Washington, D.C.. Thanks so much for being here, Anita.

    How much do these emails matter, given that lawmakers seem pretty dug in on their on their sides?

  • Anita Kumar:

    I do think they matter because what you're seeing is, Democrats immediately saying you know, that they want to know more about this, that they want to have witnesses at the Senate impeachment trial.

    And if you'll recall, that's the thing that we're going to be debating for the next two weeks over the holidays is, should there be witnesses at a trial? Should there be a real Senate trial?

    And this is just what Democrats need to say, yes, we need more than just a quick trial with no witnesses on either side.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    You've been reporting about how President Trump is handling being impeached. Last night, he spoke surprisingly little about impeachment at a youth rally in Florida.

    Tell me a little bit about the range of emotions that President Trump is going through as he processes being impeached.

  • Anita Kumar:

    Sure. I mean, we have heard from people that have talked to him in the last week that he's feeling everything you might feel — really anger and frustration, which we've seen him express in tweets and in speeches, but also, surprise, even though he knew it was coming, it was sort of a surprise that it actually happened.

    And then surprise, really a lot of surprise, at the House holding onto the articles of impeachment. That move really surprised him. He's not sure what to make of it. He was calling around to Capitol Hill and asking members of Congress what they thought of this move. Obviously, Republican members of Congress and they didn't really know either. So he's been sort of feeling all of those things.

    But the one thing that we have been hearing is that he's just very angry. He's just very, very angry to raw anger and that it's just not going to go away and that he's sort of turn that anger into energy, that he is going to get reelected. He's going to work hard on that. And that's where all of his energy is going right now.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Well, one of the things that the president is also angry about is this editor of Christianity Today, writing that he is morally lost and confused.

    So how much is that Evangelical magazine's editorial show, cracks in the president's base or it doesn't not really matter that much?

  • Anita Kumar:

    I mean, so far it's only been a couple days, it doesn't seem to show much of the crack. I mean, it's one article, one editorial with less than hundred thousand subscribers.

    But the president really reacted strongly to that and I think it's because, obviously evangelicals, they don't all vote the same way, but that's a very strong part of his base. And it's a lot of people and he really needs to keep the base as he is going into reelection.

    And I think, you know, he was, as we just talked about. He's angry this week. And that kind of set him off. I had talked to people who were surprised at how angry he got, you know, lashing out on Twitter and comment.

    And they thought, well, he's overreacting to something that's not probably going to cascade into something else. But I think that just goes to show sort of the emotions he's feeling this week.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    And we only have about a minute left. But I want to talk to you really briefly about the economy. The president was talking about how well the markets are going.

    How much do we think that that's going to factor into the president's 2020 campaign now that we're really close to that starting?

  • Anita Kumar:

    Republicans hope it is the entire campaign. They think that if the president talks about the economy, period, he can win reelection. But the president's problem is the goes off and talks about 20 other things.

    So if he can stick to the economy, trade some of these other things, the stock market, he would probably be in pretty good shape.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Well, thank you so much, Anita Kumar of POLITICO.

  • Anita Kumar:

    Thank you.

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