Updated at 5:57 p.m. ET

White House officials questioned whether President Trump might be breaking the law when he ordered military assistance for Ukraine frozen in July, according to transcripts released on Tuesday by House Democrats.

A career official with the Office of Management and Budget told impeachment investigators that he wasn't given details about why millions of dollars for Ukraine should not be paid — but observed to superiors that the move would raise big legal questions.

Mark Sandy, deputy associate director for national security within the Office of Management and Budget, talked with impeachment investigators behind closed doors on Nov. 16.

The transcript of his deposition was released on Tuesday along with that of Philip Reeker, a top State Department official.

An OMB attorney also was said to have resigned at least in part over those concerns about the need to follow the law, Sandy told investigators.

In Sandy's case, he described receiving an email on July 12th from a supervisor that announced Trump wanted to hold up military support funding for Ukraine.

No other country was mentioned and no explanation was included, according to the transcript. The message, in so many words, was: Stop the assistance now and then you may learn why later.

"'Let the hold take place' — and I'm paraphrasing here — 'and then revisit this issue with the president,'" as Sandy described a conversation between two other White House officials.

No explanation was offered about the reason for freezing the assistance until September, Sandy said, when he remembered seeing an email about Trump's concern that other allies weren't contributing enough to Ukraine's defense.

Allegations about abuse of power

Sandy's testimony is important to Democrats' argument that Trump used his power capriciously — the president did not say in real time, according to this account, that he was worried about "corruption" in Ukraine and wanted to freeze assistance until he was satisfied with reforms there.

That has been among explanations the White House has since given about why Trump acted. What Sandy's testimony illustrated was that no explanation was given in real time.

Moreover, critics argue, the law obligates Trump to dispose of funds in whatever way Congress has designated. Sandy told investigators that when he learned of the hold, he warned about its implications under the 1974 Impoundment Control Act.

The funds Trump wanted to freeze had to be used by Sept. 30, Sandy said. If they weren't, "they basically expire and they return to the Treasury."

A new summary released by the House Budget Committee earlier on Tuesday described how the first official act to stop $250 million in security assistance took place on July 25th in a letter signed by an OMB official.

Democrats on the House and Senate appropriations committees warned the Trump administration in an Aug. 3 letter that any such hold could constitute an "illegal impoundment" of funds, the new document said.

That echoed the concerns that Sandy said he and some colleagues voiced inside the administration.

Ultimately, the White House released the Ukraine assistance in early September. Trump and aides had wrought a policy over the year aimed on extracting concessions from Ukraine's leader.

In exchange for a meeting and the military assistance, witnesses have said, Trump wanted Ukraine's president to announce investigations that Trump thought might help him in the 2020 election.

Zelenskiy never made such a commitment.

Defenders: All well that ended well

Republican defenders argue that the totality of Trump's actions on Ukraine over this year show there was no improper exchange. Trump's allies reject Democrats' metaphor of "attempted bribery" or "attempted extortion."

Trump maintains that his July 25th phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy was "perfect."

Separately, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney has said that all foreign policy is political and every president places conditions on U.S. assistance for foreign governments. Assistance for other nations also has been stopped or frozen and then restored.

Anyone who can't accept Trump's use of his powers needs to "get over it," Mulvaney said.

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