The White House’s internal document review found that Donald Trump made the decision to withhold military aid to Ukraine with no legal justification.
In the early August email exchanges, Mulvaney asked acting Office of Management and Budget director Russell Vought for an update on the legal rationale for withholding the aid and how much longer it could be delayed. Trump had made the decision the prior month without an assessment of the reasoning or legal justification, according to two White House officials. Emails show Vought and OMB staffers arguing that withholding aid was legal, while officials at the National Security Council and State Department protested. OMB lawyers said that it was legal to withhold the aid, as long as they deemed it a “temporary” hold, according to people familiar with the review.
A senior budget lawyer crafted a memo on July 25 that defended the hold for at least a short period of time, an administration official said.
Trump made the decision and left his administration scrambling to find a legal justification to cover his action. This is not the way that Executive Branch decisionmaking is supposed to work. Trump should have gone to White House staff told them what he was considering, and then they look at the law and determine if it is legally possible for the president to do what he/she wants. Even better is a governing system where the president is considering a problem and is offered a variety of already legally cleared policy options to choose from.
The administration was looking for a cover story, not a policy option.
Trump didn’t have justification for withholding the aid to Ukraine, which is why the White House immediately tried to hide the Zelensky.
Even the White House’s own review is providing proof of the president’s guilt.
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