Watchdog: White House Violated Law by Freezing Ukraine Aid

Alonzo Simpson
January 16, 2020

The White House budget office "violated the law" by freezing military aid to put political pressure on the government of Ukraine, a USA congressional watchdog announced on Thursday (Jan 16) as President Donald Trump's impeachment trial looms.

In a decision issued Thursday, the GAO said that the White House budget office violated the Impoundment Control Act, which says that funds appropriated by Congress can not be withheld by the White House. "The law does not permit OMB to withhold funds for policy reasons".

Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) holds up a copy of the Trump-Ukraine Impeachment inquiry report and a copy of the Constitution of the United States in the Longworth House Office Building in Washington on December 12, 2019.

The GAO opinion disagreed, arguing the administration withheld $214 million of the military assistance as a result of nine separate temporary holds.

The OMB told the Government Accountability Office that the funds were frozen to make sure the money wasn't spent "in a manner that could conflict with the president's foreign policy". The Senate is set to begin its trial on Thursday.

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An important federal watchdog released a report on Thursday concluding President Trump's actions in the Ukraine affair broken a budget law. The agency said it was still reviewing a similar hold on $141.5 million in financing run through the State Department because officials said the White House budget office hadn't provided enough information for a decision to be rendered.

"OMB uses its apportionment authority to ensure taxpayer dollars are properly spent consistent with the President's priorities and with the law", Semmel said. In this case, the withheld aid was already released in September.

Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) called the report a "bombshell legal opinion" that "demonstrates, without a doubt, that the Trump administration illegally withheld security assistance from Ukraine". "OMB's assertions have no basis in law".

I don't doubt that many of Trump's Republican allies will shrug off the latest evidence of presidential wrongdoing, but their indifference to his illegalities is suddenly even more hard to defend.

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