Defense chief clarifies Pentagon’s role over whistleblower’s allegations
U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper welcomes Norwegian Defense Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen to the Pentagon on Friday, September 27 with honor cordon in Arlington, Virginia. During the meeting, the U.S. defense chief clarifies Pentagon’s role.
The Norwegian defense minister’s visit comes in the amidst of the hullabaloo stirred up by the democrats over President Donald J. Trump’s phone call in July with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
President Trump’s critics claim the president withheld $400 million in aid to Ukraine as a negotiating chip to get Ukraine to scrutinize the past activities of the U.S. Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden’s son.
This allegation is based on a whistleblower’s complaint that the U.S. president "solicit(s) interference from a foreign country" in next year's U.S. election.
When questioned, Esper explains the role of the Department of Defense on this matter.
[Mark Esper, Secretary of Defense]: "Since my confirmation in late July, the department has been focused on a few things and these things largely apply to any country for which we provide security assistance. First and foremost, what is the value of that to a nation's defense deterrence? Secondly, is there any corruption associated that we maybe take into account? And in this case, it was also a matter of concern for the Congress. And thirdly, to what degree could we have other allies share in providing security assistance to these countries? So that was the focus of the Department of Defense.”
The Pentagon chief refers to the aid funds: “I'm pleased to say that we were obligated to have that money out the door by the end of the fiscal year. At this point, most of the money is out the door and at no time or at any time has any delay in this money this funding affected U.S. national security."
Esper says Pentagon will provide “to Congress and whomever whatever information we can provide with regard to this incident, with regard to this matter, just as we would with any other matter."