Top Pentagon official who backed aid to Ukraine to leave post

Top Pentagon official who backed aid to Ukraine to leave post

Under Secretary of Defense for Policy John C. Rood speaks at the Defense Security University Ribbon Cutting Ceremony in Arlington, Virginia, Sept. 25, 2019. (DoD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class James K. Lee)

WASHINGTON — John Rood, the Pentagon officials who certified that Ukraine did not have corruption and should receive critical military assistance, will leave his job at the end of February, Pentagon officials confirmed Wednesday.

His departure was pushed by the White House, where President Trump and others fumed at Rood’s insistence that Ukraine get congressional approved military assistance. They also disliked his opposition to demands that South Korea and Japan pay significantly more money to support U.S. forces garrisoned in those nations.

“As you have requested, I am providing my resignation effective Feb. 28, 2020,” Rood wrote in a letter to Trump, a copy of which was provided to TMN.

Rood was the top policy person in the Pentagon since January 2018. He was the official who certified in May to Congress that Ukraine was eligible to receive $250 million in security assistance. That aid was temporarily blocked by the White House, a decision at the center of Trump’s impeachment.

His departure leaves yet another hole in the Pentagon’s senior leadership. As if to underscore those empty slots, Rood’s duties will be handled by James Anderson, who is already the acting number two in the department – in essence, the number three person taking over the top spot

His departure is also the latest in what some see as a purge of those who spoke out against Trump’s decision to withhold the critical aid for domestic political reasons.

Asked if there was a link between Rood’s resignation and his role in certifying the aid to Ukraine Jonathan Rabb Hoffman, the chief Pentagon spokesperson, told Pentagon reporters Wednesday that was “speculative.”

“I have no information that would lead me to that conclusion,” he said.

Rood’s reputation has been hit hard over the past few weeks as an individual who is hard work with — something his supporters saw as a bureaucratic way to condition the environment for his firing.

Hoffman also dismissed questions regarding the fate of Elaine McCusker, who has been nominated to become Pentagon comptroller and chief financial officer. She questioned the legality of Trump’s directive to freeze about $250 million in U.S. military aid to Ukraine.

News reports have questioned why her nomination, made last summer, has been stalled.

Hoffman said as of Wednesday morning she was still on the job.

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