Defense

No Defense officials were on Ukraine call at center of Trump impeachment probe, Pentagon says

Key Points
  • The Pentagon says there were no Defense Department officials listening to President Donald Trump's July 25 phone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky.
  • "To my knowledge, no one from the Department of Defense was on that call. I specifically asked the secretary of Defense that question, and he was not on that call," a spokesman says.
  • The Pentagon denials come the same day the State Department approves a potential U.S. sale of $39.2 million in Javelin missiles and equipment to Ukraine.
Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Jonathan Hoffman and Joint Staff Spokesperson Air Force Col. Patrick Ryder hold a press briefing at the Pentagon on Sept. 19, 2019.
Petty Officer 2nd Class James K. Lee | U.S. Navy

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon said Thursday there were no Defense Department officials listening to President Donald Trump's July 25 phone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky.

"No, there were none," Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said when asked about the call that helped trigger a probe into whether Trump should be impeached.

"To my knowledge, no one from the Department of Defense was on that call. I specifically asked the secretary of Defense that question, and he was not on that call," Hoffman added. Mark Esper was sworn in as Defense secretary two days before the call.

House Democrats last week officially launched an impeachment probe into Trump that is based on a whistleblower complaint raising concerns about Trump's call with the Ukrainian president. In that call, Trump asked whether Ukraine could "look into" unsubstantiated allegations of wrongdoing against former Vice President Joe Biden, the front-runner for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, and his son Hunter.

The top U.S. general for NATO also said Thursday that he had not had any conversations in regard to Ukrainian funds.

"Zero conversations," U.S. Air Force Gen. Tod Wolters, the nation's top general in Europe, told reporters at the Pentagon. "What I have had conversations about is, over the course of the last three months, all of the activities that we have embraced from a U.S. perspective and from a NATO perspective to help the Ukraine military defend themselves."

"My sense is, with the glide path that we are currently on, the aggressive NATO and U.S. engagements from a military training team perspective to help secure the sovereignty of Ukraine has us on a positive trajectory with respect to the security disposition in Ukraine," Wolters added.

The Pentagon denials came the same day the State Department approved a potential U.S. sale of $39.2 million in Javelin missiles and equipment to Ukraine. Zelensky brought up Javelin missiles during his July 25 call with Trump. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said he was on the call.

VIDEO1:1901:19
How to impeach the President of the United States