The White House is expected to pull the nomination of Elaine McCusker to be the Pentagon’s comptroller and chief financial officer in the latest staffing fallout from President Trump’s impeachment, The Post has learned.
McCusker resisted the president’s directive to stall about $250 million in military aid to Ukraine and her emails protesting the delay were leaked in January to the blog Just Security ahead of Trump’s Senate trial.
“This administration needs people who are committed to implementing the president’s agenda, specifically on foreign policy, and not trying to thwart it,” a White House official told The Post.
McCusker’s fate has been subject to intense interest within the White House in the wake of the Senate’s vote to acquit Trump on Wednesday. It’s unclear if a final decision has been made on the timing of the nomination withdrawal.
It’s also unclear how the withdrawal would impact McCusker’s current role as acting comptroller and CFO of the Pentagon.
Neither McCusker nor her Pentagon spokesman would comment.
McCusker would join several others dismissed over Ukraine. On Friday, Trump recalled his ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, who testified during House impeachment proceedings, and the National Security Council dismissed both Ukraine adviser Alexander Vindman, who testified, and his twin Yevgeny, an attorney for the agency.
Trump defenders say the president lawfully stalled Ukraine aid to conduct a policy review of matters such as corruption, and deny the central impeachment allegation that he did so to force Ukraine to investigate Democrats including former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, who was on the board of a Ukrainian energy firm.
In emails published ahead of Trump’s trial, McCusker repeatedly prodded the White House budget office, arguing that stalling too long would prevent the funds from being spent by the end of the fiscal year in violation of the law.
The White House budget office specified that planning to dispense the funds was allowed during the period of the Trump-ordered hold, which ended on Sept. 11.
Budget official Michael Duffey wrote to McCusker: “If you are unable to obligate the funds, it will have been DoD’s decision that cause any impoundment of funds.”
McCusker responded in a leaked email: “You can’t be serious. I am speechless.”
The Senate confirmed McCusker to be deputy under-secretary of defense (comptroller) in August 2017 and she took over the duties of her former boss David Norquist in July when he became deputy secretary of defense. Trump nominated McCusker to replace Norquist in November.
The senior Defense Department position comes with a $176,900 salary.
McCusker graduated in 1989 from the University of Dallas and worked three years in the early 2000s as a professional staffer for the Senate Armed Services Committee, which would have considered her nomination.
According to McCusker’s official biography, she worked in the Pentagon comptroller office previously during the Obama administration and as director of resources and analysis at the headquarters of U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida. She won the Joint Distinguished Civilian Service Award in 2017 and the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Civilian Service Award in 2016.
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