Trump administration broke federal law by withholding Ukraine aid: watchdog

Ruben Fields
January 16, 2020

The Government Accountability Office said the decision amounted to an "impoundment" of the funds because of a policy dispute, which is not an acceptable reason under the law for the White House to hold up money after Congress votes for it and the president signs it into law. OMB withheld funds for a policy reason, which is not permitted under the Impoundment Control Act (ICA). "Therefore, we conclude that the OMB violated the ICA [Impoundment Control Act]".

The House impeachment inquiry concluded that Trump's administration improperly withheld the aid as leverage in an effort to get Ukraine to open investigations that would help Trump politically.

Fox News' Kevin Corke reports on the latest news on the Trump impeachment battle. "The GAO's independent findings reinforce the need for the Senate to obtain all relevant documents and hear from key fact witnesses in order to have a fair trial". The aid was formally withheld on July 25, when OMB official Michael Duffey, a political appointee, took over the decision from Mark Sandy, a career budget official. The legal opinion said the GAO also had questions about the money from State, and that it was looking into whether that, "withholding was proper". Paoletta wrote in a December letter to the GAO that the hold was a "programmatic delay", and thus, Congress did not require prior notice of the move.

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Congress passed legislation appropriating the financial assistance to Ukraine past year as a way to provide a much-needed boost to the country's national security efforts amid a deadly military conflict with Russian Federation that began in 2014. OMB told GAO that it withheld the funds to ensure that they were not spent "in a manner that could conflict with the President's foreign policy".

This is a breaking news story.

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