20:53 GMT25 January 2020
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The opposition of top security officials of the United States to President Donald Trump's demand that military help for Ukraine be put on hold, allegedly in order to lever Kiev's contribution in his own election campaign, was stronger than previously thought, The New York Times said on Monday.

    The newspaper said it had spoken with tens of former and current US officials familiar with the matter and found that Defence Secretary Mark Esper, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the national security adviser at the time, John Bolton, were in strong opposition to Trump's demand to halt the military aid for Ukraine since he first inquired about it in mid-June.

    According to the report, they held a previously undisclosed meeting with the president in Oval Office in August where they tried but failed to convince him that releasing the aid for Ukraine was ultimately in the interests of the US.

    The president's demand reportedly caused conflicts and confusion in the White House and Pentagon, creating deep rifts within the senior ranks of his administration.

    On December 19, the House of Representatives voted to impeach Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The vote came after the House conducted an impeachment inquiry and concluded that Trump's conversation with Zelensky amounted to soliciting foreign meddling in the US electoral process.

    The impeachment inquiry was launched against Trump earlier in September, following a whistleblower complaint about alleged ''abuse of power'' on the part of Trump during his 25 July call with the Ukranian leader Vladimir Zelensky. Democrats have accused the president of ''putting pressure'' on Zelensky to investigate 2020 Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden and his son's potential corruption crimes in Ukraine.

    Trump has denied any wrongdoing, repeatedly dismissing the impeachment inquiry as a witch hunt aimed at reversing the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. 

    Tags:
    defence, call, impeachment, Ukraine, John Bolton, Mark Esper, Mike Pompeo, Donald Trump, United States
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