Government Accountability Office Finds Trump's White House Illegally Blocked Aid To Ukraine

President Donald Trump’s White House broke federal law by denying military aid to Ukraine, a high-level government watchdog found on Thursday, damaging the administration’s file against dismissal as the Senate is preparing to bring Trump to justice.

The Government Accountability Office dismantled the White House Management and Budget Office to withhold the $ 214 million in congressional security aid Trump had withheld while he and his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani pressed the Ukrainian government to reopen investigations into Trump’s political rivals. .

Trump has always denied that the suspension of aid was linked to his and Giuliani’s efforts to unearth the youngest son of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. This issue is central to the allegations of dismissal referred to the Senate this week.

“Faithful execution of the law does not allow the president to substitute his own political priorities for those that Congress has promulgated,” concluded the GAO in a report released Thursday morning. “The OMB withheld funds for a political reason, which is not authorized under the Impoundment Control Act (ICA). The restraint was not a programmatic delay. Therefore, we conclude that the OMB violated the CIA. “

“The OMB’s claims have no basis in law,” concludes the report.

The budget office did not agree with the findings of a statement released Thursday morning. “We do not agree with GAO’s opinion,” said the office. “The OMB uses its allocation power to ensure that taxpayers’ money is spent properly in accordance with the priorities of the president and the law.”

For its part, the GAO said that “the OMB and the state have not yet provided the information we need” – and that “we consider a reluctance to provide a comprehensive response to have constitutional significance.”

The report will fuel democratic removal efforts from the start of the Senate trial. Trump’s detractors said the suspension of aid to Ukraine was evidence that Trump was seeking to use the levers of U.S. foreign policy to advance his personal and political goals.

Trump and his allies, for their part, insisted that the temporary suspension of this aid was motivated solely by a concern for corruption in Ukraine and a desire to properly manage American taxpayers’ money.

The GAO report makes this case much more difficult.

“This explosive legal opinion of independent @USGAO shows without a doubt that the Trump administration has illegally refused aid from Ukraine and public evidence shows that the president himself ordered this illegal act”, tweeted Senator Chris Van Hollen, Democrat of Maryland. who requested the GAO investigation Thursday morning.

The federal law at issue provides only for limited circumstances in which the White House can suspend foreign aid, including efforts to save taxpayers’ money or “to deal with contingencies”. However, the OMB did not invoke any of these specific provisions in its initial justification. for refusing assistance or for communicating with GAO investigators.

Instead, the agency said it was withholding the funds to prevent their use “in a way that could conflict with the president’s foreign policy.” In other words, the concerns were political in nature. But “the CIA does not allow deferrals for policy reasons,” concluded the GAO. “Thus, the postponement of (aid to Ukraine) was inappropriate under the ICA.”

The House officially transmitted its impeachment articles to the Senate on Wednesday, but Nita Lowey, the Democratic chairman of the powerful parliamentary appropriation committee, said that Congress would work to remedy the violations that the GAO found not only by the indictment, but also through the normal legislative process. .

“While Senate Republicans will be faced with a choice in the upcoming trial as to whether they should be loyal to the President or the Constitution, Congress must also take legislative action to ensure effective stewardship of money. taxpayers in the future, “said Lowey in a statement on the GAO report. . “{Together with my colleagues on the Budget Committee, we will soon be proposing solid reforms to address the abuse of allocation and appropriation law by the Trump administration.”