(Task & Purpose photo illustration)

Acting U.S. ambassador Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat to Ukraine, testified that senior U.S. officials could not advise President Donald Trump to release military aid to Ukraine because it was too difficult to schedule.

According to a transcript of a closed-door testimony with House investigators for their impeachment inquiry, Taylor was asked why the security assistance for U.S.-backed Ukraine was on hold. The immediate release of a $400 million military package, Taylor explained, was agreed upon unanimously "of every level of interagency discussion."

Taylor went on to tell House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Adam Schiff of California that a meeting to advise the president was "hard to schedule" because they were "on different trips at different times."

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From left to right: Fox News host Laura Ingraham, Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, and CNN contributor Sean Duffy (Associated Press/Public domain)

Two Fox News hosts and a CNN analyst are facing criticism from reporters and media pundits after suggesting — without evidence — that a decorated war veteran and a White House national security official could be a double-agent.

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Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, director of European affairs at the National Security Council, arrives at the Capitol for his deposition as part of the House's impeachment inquiry on Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019. (CQ Roll Call/Bill Clark via Associated Press)

WASHINGTON — A U.S. Army officer who works at the White House National Security Council said he listened in on the call between President Donald Trump and Ukraine's president and was so disturbed by the content that he reported his concerns to the NSC's legal counsel.

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman said in a statement prepared for the House impeachment inquiry that the call was just one of the instances he witnessed in which Trump administration officials repeatedly conditioned aid to Ukraine on that country agreeing to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden.

His statement corroborates the complaint made by a whistle-blower in the intelligence community, whom Trump has repeatedly sought to discredit and dismiss. Vindman's testimony is scheduled to be delivered Tuesday to the three House committees leading an impeachment inquiry of Trump and provides a key piece of evidence from someone with first-hand knowledge of the events being investigated.

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An aerial view of the Pentagon building in Washington, June 15, 2005. U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld defended the Guantanamo prison against critics who want it closed by saying U.S. taxpayers have a big financial stake in it and no other facility could replace it at a Pentagon briefing on Tuesday. (Reuters/Jason Reed JIR/CN)

Senior defense officials offered a wide range of excuses to reporters on Wednesday about why they may not comply with a subpoena from House Democrats for documents related to the ongoing impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

On Oct. 7, lawmakers subpoenaed information about military aid to Ukraine. Eight days later, a Pentagon official told them to pound sand in part because many of the documents requested are communications with the White House that are protected by executive privilege.

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Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney takes questions during a news briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., October 17, 2019. (Reuters/Leah Millis)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump's withholding of $391 million in military aid to Ukraine was linked to his request that the Ukrainians look into a claim — debunked as a conspiracy theory — about the 2016 U.S. election, a senior presidential aide said on Thursday, the first time the White House acknowledged such a connection.

Trump and administration officials had denied for weeks that they had demanded a "quid pro quo" - a Latin phrase meaning a favor for a favor - for delivering the U.S. aid, a key part of a controversy that has triggered an impeachment inquiry in the House of Representatives against the Republican president.

But Mick Mulvaney, acting White House chief of staff, acknowledged in a briefing with reporters that the U.S. aid — already approved by Congress — was held up partly over Trump's concerns about a Democratic National Committee (DNC) computer server alleged to be in Ukraine.

"I have news for everybody: Get over it. There is going to be political influence in foreign policy," Mulvaney said.

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Revelations of an alleged Russian intelligence operation to murder opponents and spread chaos across the European Union were met with a mix of wonder and derision in the intelligence community. Russia's decision to return to formalized violent operations in the West has "proven they can get to anyone," a source told Insider. But in many cases, the Russians' sloppy tradecraft has meant their "secret" operations are almost immediately noticed.

Two current European intelligence officials described the scoop by the New York Times about a unit of Russian military intelligence, commonly called the GRU, tasked with murdering Russia's enemies in Europe and helping sow political and military chaos, as "credible." It's "confirmation of something we have long suspected: There is a plan," one told Insider.

The New York Times piece, which ran Tuesday, used a mix of open-source documentation and intelligence gathered across Europe in the wake of half a dozen killings to determine that many of the international incidents involving Russia involve "Unit 29155" of the GRU, a previously unknown unit. It appears to be specifically tasked with irregular operations directed at Europe, including a failed coup in Montenegro and the attempted poisonings of an arms dealer in Bulgaria and a GRU defector in Salisbury, England.

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