|Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine, Eurasia|
|Preceded by||Evelyn Farkas|
|Born||St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.|
|Education||Northwestern University (BA)|
Georgetown University (MS)
National Defense University (MS)
Laura Katherine Cooper is an American civil servant. She is Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russian, Ukrainian, and Eurasian affairs in the office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, and a career member of the Senior Executive Service. She previously served as principal director in the office of the Homeland Defense and Global Security Affairs.
Cooper testified to the United States Congress's House Intelligence Committee during a closed-door hearing on October 23, 2019; this committee is gathering information relevant to potential impeachment proceedings involving U.S. President Donald Trump. She also testified on November 20, 2019, in an open hearing to that same committee.
Cooper attended Northwestern University, receiving a Bachelor of Arts. She received a master's degree from Georgetown University in Foreign Service, and a Master of Science in National Resource Strategy from the National Defense University.
A prior assignment in the DOD had been as Afghanistan Team Chief, Stability Operations Office, responsible for stability and security. In 2004 she presciently noted that to achieve these objectives, the efforts had to be enduring, with no end in sight. She identified the major needs to reach these goals: the Ministry of Defense and the Afghan National Army needed to be reformed and rebuilt to counter the resurgent Taliban and the powerful warlords; a police force was needed to combat crime; the justice system had to be assisted to ensure the rule of law; prisons had to be built.
Cooper has been cognizant of women's issues. She has noted that "[f]or much of [her] career, it’s absolutely true that [she has] been the only woman in the room quite frequently". She identifies security as a women's issue, needing their brain power to develop the best path forward. While working on Afghanistan policy, she was involved in the recruitment of the first female recruits for the National Police.
She has described the Russian intervention in Ukraine as "a brazen violation of international law" after Ukrainian vessels were attacked by Russia in late November 2018. Cooper has been supportive of continued military aid to Ukraine. During a 2018 visit to Ukraine, she noted that Congress had authorized money for military aid, and she said that "one of my goals on this visit was to discuss with the Government of Ukraine what its priority needs are for security assistance." She met with Ukrainian Minister of Defence Stepan Poltorak to define measures of bilateral cooperation for defense. Cooper was the Pentagon official in charge of the aid package; she confirmed in December 2018 that the U.S. would have a comprehensive response to Russian aggression. In a video message Cooper said that Ukraine "can count on the U.S. to remain your strong partner" in strengthening its military. There is consensus that her assurances to the Ukrainians demonstrated that she expected the funds to be released in early 2019.
|Testimony of Cooper and David Hale to the House Intelligence Committee, November 20, 2019, C-SPAN|
Her testimony was sought by the Congressional committees leading the impeachment inquiry against Donald Trump in matters relating to Trump–Ukraine scandal. On October 23, 2019, in defiance to a White House letter warning her not to appear before the impeachment inquiry, Cooper testified in a closed-door deposition before congressional committees. After a five-hour delay due to a protest by Republican members of Congress, Cooper completed a 3.5 hour deposition in which she explained the process for transferring military aid to Ukraine. During a public hearing on November 20, 2019, Cooper testified to the U.S House of Representatives that Ukrainian officials knew about the hold on military aid by July 25, the day of the Trump–Zelensky call, undercutting an assertion that there could not have been a quid pro quo because Ukraine was not aware of the hold.
- globeandmail.com, October 23, 2019, article on Cooper's Capitol Hill appearance
- "Laura K. Cooper: Biography". Defense.gov. U.S. Department Of Defense. Retrieved October 18, 2019.
- "Afghanistan: Security and State-Building | C-SPAN.org". www.c-span.org. Retrieved October 19, 2019.
- "Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper's Remarks at the Ukrainian Women's Congress". U.S. Embassy in Ukraine. December 7, 2018. Retrieved October 18, 2019.
- "Pentagon Praises U.S.-Armenia Military Cooperation". Armenian National Committee of America. Retrieved October 18, 2019.
- President Thaci meets Laura Cooper (See, also, image 2 as "only woman in the room")
- "Pentagon about results of visit Laura Cooper to Azerbaijan". www.turan.az. Retrieved October 18, 2019.
- "Azerbaijan and NATO Mark 25 Years of Partnership". Jamestown. Retrieved October 18, 2019.
- "Defense Minister's Meeting with Laura K. Cooper - News - MOD.GOV.GE". mod.gov.ge (in Georgian). Retrieved October 19, 2019.
- "Pentagon: US concerned over Russia's attack at Ukrainian ships in Kerch Strait". KyivPost. Interfax-Ukraine. December 8, 2018. Retrieved October 25, 2019.
- "The Ukrainian Week". ukrainianweek.com. Retrieved October 18, 2019.
- "Ukraine : Minister of Defense and U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper defined priority areas of bilateral cooperation for the near future". MarketWatch. Retrieved October 18, 2019.
- "Friday testimony before the impeachment inquiry could highlight a fracture inside the Defense Dept". Daily Kos. Retrieved October 20, 2019.
- Kitsoft. "Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine - The United States is ready to further support Ukraine in strengthening navy and reform of the defense industry, says Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper". www.kmu.gov.ua. Retrieved October 18, 2019.
- "Pentagon expert could reveal key details in Ukraine probe". www.msn.com. Retrieved October 20, 2019.
- "Pentagon expert could reveal key details in Ukraine probe". news.yahoo.com. Retrieved October 19, 2019.
- "Pentagon official won't testify Friday to House impeachment probe". Reuters. October 18, 2019. Retrieved October 18, 2019.
- Savage, Charlie (October 24, 2019). "Read the Trump Administration's Warning Letter to Laura Cooper". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 27, 2019.
- Cheney, Kyle; Desiderio, Andrew; Morgan, Wesley (October 23, 2019). "Pentagon official testifies about withheld military aid to Ukraine". POLITICO. Retrieved October 27, 2019.
- "Pentagon official testifies about withheld military aid to Ukraine". POLITICO. Retrieved October 24, 2019.
- Press, Associated. "Republicans barge into SCIF and sideline deposition of Pentagon's Laura Cooper". MarketWatch. Retrieved October 24, 2019.
- "Pentagon official reveals Ukrainians asked about stalled aid as early as July". CNN. November 20, 2019.