Trump’s problems could be bigger than impeachment as the Government Accountability Office is investigating the president for violating the law by withholding Ukraine aid.
The Government Accountability Office is reviewing the Trump administration’s hold on nearly $400 million in security assistance to Ukraine after a Democratic senator asked if the freeze violated appropriations law.
The president has the ability to hold up money approved by Congress under limited circumstances, according to the Congressional Research Service. But without any policy reason for the hold, some career budget staffers questioned whether the Office of Management and Budget had the authority to indefinitely hold up the money.
The Pentagon also conducted a legal review of the administration’s hold on the money, concluding that funds approved by Congress needed to be released. Pentagon officials expressed concern to officials at the National Security Council that the money could expire at the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30 if the hold was not lifted, according to people familiar with the matter.
It wasn’t just Congress that was demanding that Trump release the aid to Ukraine. The Pentagon also told Trump that he had to release the funds. The question that the non-partisan GAO is investigating concerns whether or not Trump violated the law by not releasing the funds. It is clear from the testimony of impeachment witnesses that they knew why the funds weren’t released: Trump was demanding an investigation into the Bidens in exchange for the funds.
The president has very limited authority to withhold congressionally appropriated funds. A president who goes outside of his authority to withhold funds is breaking the law.
Republicans are arguing about the process, and quid pro quos, but the heart of the matter is presidential abuse of power, and if Trump abused his power to try to force a foreign country to investigate Joe Biden.
A president abused his power, and we will find out if he also broke the law.
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Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association